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, JHENEW »«^| 

ASTOh, L OX i 















** I will go into the desert and dwell among rains ; T will interrogate ancient 
monumento on the wisdom of past tlmes.^—CHAP. ir., p. 31. 


1853. ' 




AHVHen nnand 





The snperior merits of this work are too well known to require 
ecmimendation ; bnt as it is not generally known that there are in 
circulation three English translations of it, varying very materially 
in regard to faithfalness and elegance of diction, the publisher of 
the present edition insert the following extrocts for the information 
of purchasers and readers : — 


From uikidi ihi» Edititm it prhUtd, 


Hail, solitary ruins ! holy aeiralcbres, and silent walls ! you I invoke ; to 
you I address mj pnyer. While your, aspect averts, with secret terrM", th« 
▼algar regard, it excites in my heart the charm of delicious sentiments — sub- 
lime contemplations. What useful lessons ! what affecting and profound re- 
flections you suggest to him wllo knowshow to consult you. When the whole 
earth in chains and silence, bowed the neck before its tyrants, you had already 
proclaimed the truths which they abhor, and confounding the dust of the kinc 
with tliat of the meanest slave, had announced to man the sacred dogma of 
Equality ! Within your pale, in solitar/ adoration of Liberty, I saw her 
Genius arise from the mansions of the dead; not such as sKe is painted by the 
impassioned multitude, armed with firs and sword, but under the augast aspect 
of Justice, poising in her hand the sacred balance, wherein are weighed the 
actions of men at the gates of eternity. 

f> Tomb« ! wh&fc virtnfis arA vonra ! v 

O Tombs ! what virtues are yours ! you appal the tyrant** heart, and poison 
with secret alarm his impious joys ; he flies, with coward step, your incorrupt- 
ible aspect, and erects arar his throne of insolence. 



Solitary ruins, sacred tombs, ye mouldering and silent waHs, all hail ! To 
you I address my Invocation. While the vulgar shrink from your aspect with 
secret terror, my heart finds in the contemplation a thousand delicious senti- 
ments, a thousand admirable recollections. Pregnant, I may truly call yon, 
-with useful lessons, with pathetic and irresistible advice to the man who 
||Bows how to consult you. A while ago the whole world bowed the neck in 
snence before the tyrants that oppiessed it ; and yet in that hopeless moment 
you already proclaimed the truths that tyrants bold in abhorrence : mixing the 
dust of the proudest kings with that of the meanest slaves, you called upon us 
to contemplate this example of Equality. From your caverns, whither the 
musing and anxious love of Libkbty led me, I saw escape its venerable shade, 
and with unexpected felicity, direct its flight and marshal my steps the way to 
renovated France. 


Tombt ! what virtuet an8 potency do you exhibit ! Tyrants tremble at your 
aspect— you poison with secret alarm their impious pleasures— they turn Irom 
you with impatience, and, cowardlike, endeavor to forget you amid the sttmp> 
tuottsness of their palaces. 


Hail, ye solitary ruins, ye sacred tombs, and silent Walls ! >Tis your auspi- 
cious aid that I invoke ; 'tis to you my soul, wrapt in meditation, pours forth 
its prayer ! What though the profane and vulgar mind shrinks with dismay 
from your august and awe-inspiring aspect ; to roe ye unfold the sublimest 
charms of contemplation and sentiment, and offer to my senses the luxury of a 
thousand delicious and enchanting thoughts ! How sumptuous the feast to a 
being that has a taste to relish, and an understanding to consult you ! What 
rich and noble admonitions ; what exquisite and pathetic lessons do you read 
to a heart that is susceptible of exalted feelings I When oppressed humanity 
bent in timid silence throughout the globe beneath the galling yoke of slavery, 
It was you that proclaimed aloud the birthright of those truths which tyrants 
tremble at while they detect, and which, by sinking the loftiest head of the 
proudest potentate, with all his boasted pageantry, to the level of mortality 
with his meanest slave, confirmed and ratified by your unerring testimooy tb« 
•acred and immortal doctrine of Equality. 

Musing within the precincts of your inviting scenes of philosophic solitude, 
whither the insatiate love of true-born Libsbtt had led me, 1 beheld her Ge- 
nius ascending, not in the spurious character and habit of a blood-thirsty Fury 
armed witli daggers and instruments of murder, and followed by a frantic and 
intoxicated multitude, but under the placid and chaste aspect of Justice, hold- 
ing with a pure and unsullied hand the sacred scales in which the actions of 
mortals are weighed on the brink of eternity. 

O ye tombs and emblematic images of death! How superlative is your 
power ! how irresistible yoar influence ! Your presence appais aud chills the 
souls of tyrants with electric horror and remorse ; the very remembrance of 
you haunts their minds like a ghastly spectre in the midst of their voluptuous 
enjoyments, and the terror you inspire plants thorns in all their thoughts, and 
poisons their impious pleasures into pains. 

The first translation was made and published in London soon 
after the appearance of the work in French, and, by a late edition, 
is still adopted without alteration. Mr. Volney, when in this coun- 
try, in 1797, expressed his disapprobation of this translation, al- 
leging that the translator must have been overawed by the govern- 
ment or clergy from rendering his ideas faithfully ; and accordingly 
an English gentleman, then in Philadelphia, volunteered to correct 
this edition. But by his endeavors to give the true and full mean- 
ing of the author with great precision, he has so overloaded his 
composition with an exuberance of words, as in a great measure to 
dissipate the simple elegance and sublimity of the original. Mr. 
Yolney, when he became better acquainted with the English lan- 
guage, perceived this defect ; and, with the aid of our countryman, 
Joel Barlow, made and published in Paris a new, correct, and ele 
gant translation, of which the present edition is a faithful and coft 
rect copy. 



If books were to be judged of by their volume, the fol- 
lowing would have but little value ; if appraised by their 
contents, it will perhaps be reckoned among the most in- 

In general, nothing is more important than a good ele- 
mentary book ; but, also, nothing is more difficult to com- 
pose, and even to read : and why ? Because, as every* 
thing in it should be analysis and definition, all should be 
expressed with truth and precision. If truth and pieeision 
are wanting, the object has not been attained ; if they ex* 
ist, its very force renders it abstract. 

The first of these defects has been hitherto evident in 
all books of morality ; we find in them only a ctaos of in- 
coherent maxims, precepts without causes, and actions 
without a motive. The pedants of the human race have 
treated it like a little child ; they have prescribed to it 
good behavior by frightening it with spirits and hobgoblins, 
^ow that the growth of the human race is rapid, it is time 
to speak reason to it ; it is time to prove to men that the 
springs of their improvement are to be found in their very 
organization, in the interest of their passions, and in a^ 

that composes their existence. It is time to demonstrate 
that morality is a physical and geometrical science, sub- 
jected to the rales and calculations of the other mathemat* 
ical sciences : and such is the advantage of the system 
expounded in this bopk, that the basis of morality being 
laid in it on the very nature of things, it is both constant 
and immutable ; whereas, in all other theological systems, 
morality being built upon arbitrary opinions, not demonstra- 
ble and oflen absurd, it changes, decays, expires with them, 
and leaves men in an absolute depravation. It is true that, 
because our system is founded on facts and not on reveries, 
it will with much greater difficulty be extended and adopt- 
ed ; but it will derive strength from this very struggle, and 
sooner or later the eternal religion of Nature must overturn 
the transient religions of the human mind. 

This book was published for the first time in 1793, under 
the title of " The French Citizen's Catechism." It was at 
first intended for a national work ; but as it may be equally 
well entitled the Catechism of men of sense and honor, it 
is to be hoped that it will become a book common to all 
Europe. It is possible that its brevity may prevent it from 
attaining the object of a popular classical work ; but the 
author will be satisfied if he has at least the merit of point- 
ing out the way to make a better. 



The Life of Volney • 9 

InTocation « • • 19 

Ciiap.I. The Journey 21 

II. Meditation 23 

m. The Apparition 26 

lY. The Exposition 30 

y. Condition of Man in the Universe • 35 

VI. The Primitive State of Man 37 

VII. Principles of Society • 38 

VIII. Source of the Evils of Societies 39 

IX. Origin of Governments and Laws 41 

X. General Causes of the Prosperity of Ancient States. 43 
XI. General Causes of the Revolutions and Ruin of An- 
cient States i 46 

XII. Less9ns of Times Past, repeated on the Present 54 

XIII. Will the Human Race improve • 65 

XIV. The Great Obstacle to Improvement 71 

XV. The New Age 74 

XVI. A Free and Legislative People • 78 

XVII. Universal Basis of all Right and all Law 80 

XVIII. Consternation and Conspiracy of Tyrants 82 

XIX. General Assembly of the Nations 84 

XX. The Search of Truth 87 

XXI. Problem of Religious Contradictions 96 

XXII. Origin and Filiation of Religious Ideas 118 

§ z. Origin of the Idea of God : Worship of the Elements 

and of the Physical Powers of Nature 122 

§ II. Second System. Worship of the Stars, or Sabeism. . 124 
§ in. Third System. Worship of Symbols, or Idolatry. ... 128 
( IV. Fourth System. Worship of two Principles, or Du- 
alism 138 


S y. Moral and Mystical Worship, or System of a Future 

State .% 1 43 

§ VI. Sixth System. The Animated World, or Worship of 

the Universe under divers Emblems 148 

§ VII. Seventh System. Worship of the Soul of the World, 
that is to say, the Element of Fire, Vital Princi- 
ple of the Universe 161 

§ VIII. Eighth System. The World Machine : Worship of 

the Demi-Ourgos, or Grand Artificer 163 

§ IX. Religion of Moses, or Worship of the Soul of the 

World (Youpiter) 167 

§ X. Religion of Zoroaster 160 

§ XI. Brahmism, or Indian System 160 

§ XII. Boudhism, or Mystical Systems 161 

§ xtii. Christianity, or the Allegorical Worship of the Sun, 
under the cabalistic names of Chris-en or Christy 

and Yesus or Jesus .* 161 

XXIII. The Object of all Religions Identical 170 

XXIY; Solution of the Problem of Contradictions 180 


C^p. I. The Law of Nature 186 

n. Characters of the Law of Nature 187 

III. Principles of the Law of Nature with relation to Man 191 

IV. Basiff of Morality : of Good^ of Evil, of Sin, of Crime, 

of Vice, and of Virtue 196 

V. Of Individual Virtues 197 

VI. On Temperance 199 

VII. On Continence 201 

Till. On Courage and Activity 204 

IX. On CleanUness 206 

X. On I)ome8tic Virtues 208 

XL Of the Social Virtues; of Justice 211 

XII. Development of the Social Virtues 214 



CoNSTANTiNs Francib Chassbbsuf db Yolnet was 
bora in 1757» at Craon, in that iatermediate condition of life 
which is of all the happiest, since it is disinherited onljr 
of fortune's too dangerous favors, and can aspire at the 
social and intellectual advantages reserved for a laudable 

From his earliest youth, he devotoil himself to the search 
after truth, without being disheartened by the serious stud- 
ies which alone can initiate us into her secrets. After 
having become acquainted with the ancient languages, the 
natural sciences and history, and being admitted into the 
society of the most eminent literary characters, he submit- 
ted, at the age of twenty, to an illustrious academy, the 
solution of one of the most difficult problems that the his- 
tory of antiquity has left open to discussion. This attempt 
received no encouragement from the learned men who were 
appointed his judges ; the author's only appeal from their 
sentence was to his courage and his efforts. 

Soon after, a small inheritance having fallen to his lot, 
the difficulty was how to spend it (these are his own words). 
He resolved to employ it in acquiring, by a long voyage, a 
new fund of information, and determined to visit Egypt and 
Syria. But these countries could not be explored to ad- 
vantage without a knowledge of the language. Our young 
traveller was not to be discouraged by this difficulty. In- 


Stead of learning Arabic in Europe, he withdrew to a con- 
vent of Copts, until he had made himself master of an 
idiom which is spoken by so many nations of the East. 
This resolution already betrayed one of those undaunted 
spirits that remain unshaken amid the trials of life. 

Although, like other travellers, he might have amused us 
with the account of his hardships,' and the perils surmount- 
ed by his courage, he overcame the. temptation of inter- 
rupting his narrative by personal adventures. He disdained 
the beaten track ; he does not tell us the road he took, the 
accidents he met with, or the impressions he received. He 
carefully avoids appearing upon the stage ; he is an inhab- 
itant of the country, who has long and well observed it, and 
who describes its physical, political, and moral state. The 
iUusion would be entire, if an old Arab could be supposed 
to possess all the erudition, all the European philosophy^ 
which are found united and in their maturity in a traveller 
of twenty-five. 

But though a roaster in all those artifices by which a 
narration is rendered interesting, the young man is not to 
be discerned in the pomp of labored descriptions ; although 
possessed of a lively and brilliant imagination, he is never 
found unwarily explaining by conjectored systems the phys- 
ical or moral phenomena which he describes. In his ob- 
servations he unites prudence with science ; with these 
two guides, he judges with circumspection, and sometimes 
confesses himself unable to account for the efifects he has 
made known to us. 

Thus his account has all the qualities that persuade, ac- 
curacy and candor ; and when, ten years later, a vast mili- 
tary enterprise transported forty thousand travellers to the 
classic ground, which he had trod unattended, unarmed, 
and unprotected, they all recognised a sure guide and an 
enlightened observer in the writer who seemed to have 
preceded them only to remove or point out a part of the 
difficulties of the way. 


The unanimous testimony of all parties proved the accu- 
racy of his account, and the justness of his observation ; 
and his Travels in Egypt and Syria were recommended by 
universal suffrage to the gratitude aod the confidence of the 

Before it had undergone this trial, the work had obtained 
in the learned world such a rapid and general success, that 
it found its way into Russia. The empress then upon the 
th{pne (in 1787) sent the author a medal, which he re- 
ceived with respect, as a mark of esteem for his talents, 
and with gratitude, as a proof of the approbation given to 
his principles. But when the empress declared against 
France, Volney sent back the honorable present, saying — 
If I obtained it from hep esteem, I can only preserve her 
esteem by returning it. 

The revoliltion of 1789, which had drawn upon Prance 
the meriaces of Catharine, had opened to Volney a politi- 
cal career. As deputy in the assembly of the states-gen- 
eral, the first words he uttered there were in favor of the 
publicity of their deliberations. He also supported the or^ 
ganization of the national guards and that of the communes 
and departments 

At the period when the question of the sale of the do- 
main lands was agitated (in 1790), he published an essay, 
in which he lays down the following principles : «* The 
force of a state is in proportion to its population ; popula- 
tion is in proportion to plenty ; plenty is in proportion to 
tillage ; and tillage, to personal and immediate interest — 
that is, to the spirit of property. Whence it follows, that 
the nearer the cultivator approaches the passive condition 
of a mercenary, the less industry and activity are to be ex- 
pected from him ; and, on the other hand, the nearer he is 
to the condition of a free and entire proprietor, the more 
extension he gives to his own forces, to the produce of his 
lands, arid to the general prosperity of the state.** 

The author draws this conclusion, that a state is so much 


the more powerful as it includes a gi:eater number of pro- 
prietors ; that is, a greater division of property. 

Conducted into Corsica by that spirit of observation 
which belongs only to men whose information is varied and 
extensive, he perceived at the first glance all that could be 
done for the improvement of agriculture in that countjry ; 
but he knew that, for a people firmly attached to ancieni 
customs, there can exist no other demonstration or means 
of persuasion than example. He purchased a considerable 
estate, and made experiments on all the kinds of tillage 
that he hoped to naturalize in that climate : the sugar-cane, 
cotton, indigo, and coffee, soon demonstrated the success 
of his efforts. This success drew upon him the notice of 
the government : he was appointed director of agriculture 
and commerce in that island, where, through ignorance, all 
new methods are introduced ^th such difficulty. 

It is impossible to calculate all the good that might* have 
resulted from this peaceable magistracy ; and we know 
that neither instruction, zeal, nor a persevering courage, 
was wanting to him who had undertaken it ; of this he 
had given convincing proofs. It was in obedience to an- 
other sentiment, no less respectable, that he voluntarily in- 
terrupted the course of his labors. When his fellow-citi- 
zens of Angers appointed him their deputy in the constituent 
assembly, he resigned the employment he held under gov- 
ernment, upon the principle that no man can represent the 
nation and be dependant for a salary upon those by whom 
it is administered. 

Through respect for the independence of his legislative 
functions, he had ceased to occupy the place he possessed 
in Corsica before his election ; but he had not ceased to 
be the benefactor of that country. He returned thither 
after the session of the constituent assembly. Invited into 
that island by the principal inhabitants, who were anxious 
to put in practice his lessons, he spent there a part of the 
years 1792 and 1793. 

OF VOLN«Y. 13 

On his return, lie pobliahsd a work entitled '* An account 
uf the present state of Corsica." This was an act of cour- 
age ; for it was not a physical description, but a political 
review of the condition of a population divided into several 
factions, and distracted by violent animosities. Yolney 
unreservedly revealed the abuses, solicited the interest of 
France in favor of the Corsicans, without flattering them, 
and boldly denounced their defects and vices ; so that the 
philosopher obtained the only recompense he could expect 
from his sincerity. He was accused by the Corsicans of 

To prove that he had not merited this reproach, he soon 
after published a short treatise, entitled " The law of na- 
ture, or physical principles of morality/' 

He was soon exposed to a much more dangerous charge ; 
and this, it must be confessed, he did merit. This philos- 
opher, this worthy citizen, who, in our first national assem- 
bly, had seconded with his wishes and his talents the 
establishment of an order of things which he considered 
favorable to the happiness of his country, was accused of 
not being sincerely attached to that liberty for which he 
had contended ; that is to say, of being averse to anarchy. 
An imprisonment of ten months, which only ended after 
the 9th Thermidor, was a new trial reserved for his cour- 

The moment at which he recovered his liberty was that 
when the horror inspired by criminal excesses recalled 
men to those noble sentiments which fortunately are one 
of the first necessaries of civilized life. They sought for 
consolations in study and literature, after so many crimes 
and misfortunes, and organized a plan of public instruction. 

It was, in the first place, necessary to ensure the apti- 
tude 0f those to whom education should be confided ; but 
as the systems yirere various, the best methods and a unity 
of doctrine were to be determined. It was not enough to 
interrogate the masters ; they were to be formed, new ones 



were to be created, and, for tbat purpose, a acbool was 
opened in 1794, wherein the celebrity of the professors 
promised new instruction even to the best informed. This 
was not, as was objected, beginning the edifice by the roof, 
but creating architects who were to superintend all the arts 
requisite for the construction of the building. 

The more difficult their functions were, the greater care 
was to be taken in the choice of the professors ; but France, 
though then accused of being plunged in barbarism, pos- 
sessed men of transcendent talents, already enjoying the 
esteem of all Europe, and we may be bold to say, that, by 
their labors, our literary glory had likewise extended its 
conquests. Their names were proclaimed by the public 
voice, and Yolney's was associated with those of the men 
most illustrious in science and in literature.* 

This institution, however, did not answer the expecta- 
tions that had been formed of it, because the two thousand 
students that assembled from all parts of France were not 
equally prepared to receive these transcendent lessons, and 
because it had not been sufficiently ascertained how far the 
theory of education should be kept distinct from education 

Yolney's lectures on history, which were attended by an 
immense concourse of auditors, became one of his chief 
claims to literary glory. When forced to interrupt them, 
by the suppression of the Normal school, he might have 
reasonably expected to enjoy, in his retirement, that con- 
sideration which his recent functions had added to his 
name. But, disgested with the scenes he had witnessed 
in his native land, he felt that passion revive within him, 
which, in his youth, had led him to visit Africa and Asia. 
America, civilized within a century, and free only within a 
few years, fixed his attention. There everything was new, 

* Lagrange, Lafilace, BerthoUet, Garat, Benuurdin de Saint-Piem, 
Daubenton, Hauy, Volney, Sicard, Monge, Thouin, La Harpe, Buache 


the infaalttCaats, the conetitation, the earth itself. These 
were ofafects worthy of his observation. When embark- 
ing, however, for this voyage, he felt emotions very differ- 
ent from those which formerly accompanied him into Tar- 
key. Then in the prime of life, he joyfully bid adieu to a 
land where peace and plenty reigned, to travel among bar- 
barians ; now, raatore in years, but dismayed at the spec- 
tacle and experience of injustice and persecution, it was 
with diffidence, as we learn from himself, that he went to 
implore from a free pec^le an asylum for a sincere friend 
of that liberty that had been so profaned. 

Our traveller had gone to seek for repose beyond the 
seas ; he there found himself exposed to aggression from 
a celebrated philosopher — Dr. Priestley. Although the sub- 
ject of this discussion was confined to the investigation of 
some speculative opinions published by the French writer 
in his work entitled " The Ruins," the naturalist, in this 
attack, employed a degree of violence which added nothing 
to the force of his arguments, and an acrimony of expres- 
sion not to be expected from a philosopher. M. Yolney, 
though accused of Hottentotism and ignorance, preserved, 
in his defNice, all the advantages that the scurrility of his 
adversary gave over him. He replied in English, and 
Priestley's countrymen could only recognise the French- 
man in the refinement and politeness of his answer. 

While M. Yolney was travelling in America, there had 
been formed in France a literary body, which, under the 
•name of Institute, had attained in a very few years a dis- 
tinguished rank among the learned societies of Europe. 
The name of the illustrious traveller was inscribed in it at 
its formation, and he acquired now rights to the academical 
honors conferred on him during his absence, by the publi- 
cation of his observations on the United States. 

These rights were further augmented by the historical 
and physiological labors of the Academician : an examina- 
tion and justification of Herodotus's chronology, with nu- 


merous and profound researches on the history of the nuMit 
ancient nations, occupied for a long time him who had ob<- 
served their monuments- and. traces in the countries they 
inhabited. The trial he had made of the utility of the 
oriental languages inspired him with an ard^it desire to 
propagate the knowledge of them, and to be propagated, he 
felt how necessary it was to render it less difficult. In 
this view, he conceived the project of applying to the study 
of the idioms of Asia, a part of the grammatical notions w« 
possess concerning the languages of Europe. It only ap* 
pertains to those conversant with their relations of dissi- 
militude or conformity, to appreciate the possibility of re- 
alizing this system ; but already the author has received 
the most flattering encouragement, and the most nnequivo* 
cal suffrage, by the inscription of his name among the 
members of the learned and illustrious society founded by 
English commerce in the Indian peninsula. 

M. Yolney developed his system in three works,* which 
prove that this idea of uniting nations separated by immense 
distances and such various idioms, had never ceased to 
occupy him for twenty-five years. Lest those essays, of 
the utility of which he was persuaded, should be interrupted 
by his death, with the clay-cold hand that ccnrected his 
last work, he drew up a will which institutes a premium 
for the prosecution of his labors. Thus he prolonged, be- 
yond the tern^ of a life entirely devoted to letters, the glo- 
rious, services he had rendered them. 

This is not the place, nor does it belong to me, to appre- 
ciate the merit of the writings which render Volney's name 
illustrious : his name had been inscribed in the list of the 
senate, and afterward of the house of peers. The philos- 
opher who had travelled in the four quarters of the world, 
and observed their social state, had other titles to his ad- 

•"On the Simplification of the Oriental Languages, 1795.*'— "The 
European Alphabet applied to the Languages of Asia, 1819."—" Hebrew 
Simplified, 1820." 

or VOLNBY. 17 

mission into this body, than his literary glory. His public 
life, his conduct in the constituent assembly, his independ- 
ent principles, the nobleness of his sentiments, the wisdom 
and fixity of his opinions, had gained him the esteem of 
those who can be depended, upon, and with whom it is so 
agreeable to discuss political interests. 

Although no man had a better right to have an opinion, 
no one was more tolerant for the opinions of others. In 
state assemblies, as well as in academical meetings, the 
man whose counsels were so wise voted according to his 
conscience, which nothing could bias ; but the philosopher 
forgot his superiority, to hear, to oppose with moderation, 
and to doubt sometimes. The extent and variety of his 
information, the force of his reason, the austerity of his 
manners, and the noble simplicity of his character, had 
procured him illustrious friends in both hemispheres ; and 
now that this vast erudition is extinct in the tomb,* we may 
be allowed at least to predict, that he was one of the very 
few whose memory shall never die. 

• He died in Puis, oa the SOth of April, 1890. 



Tratxi.8 in Eotpt and Stbia during the years 1783, 1784> a&d 
1785: 2 vols. 8vo.— 1787. 

CmtoNOLOQT OF THE TwxLVE Centxtkies that preceded the en- 
trance of Xerxes into Greece. 

CcmsiDEKATiONS ON THE TURKISH War, in 1788. 

The Ruinb^ or Meditation on the Revolntions of Empires — 1791. 

AccoxwT or the Present State op Corsica — 1793. 

The Law of Nature, or Physical Principles of Morality— 1793. 

On the Simplification of Oriental Languages — 1795. 

A Letter to Dr. Priestlet — 1797. 

Lectures on History, delivered at the Normal School in the year 

On the Climate and Soa of the United States of America, 
to which is added an account of Florida, of the French colony of 
Scioto, of some Canadian Colonies^ and of the Savages — 1803. 

Report made to the Celtic Academy on the Russian Work of 
Professor Pallas, entitled "A Comparative Vocabulary of all 
the Languages in the World.'' 

The Chronology of Herodotus conformable with his Text— 1808 
and 1809. 

New Researches on Ancient History, 3. vols. 8vo. — 1814. 

The European Alphabet Applied to the Languages of Asia— 1819, 

A History of Samuel — 1819. 

Hebrew Simplified— 1820. 


Hail, solitary ruins, holy sepulclur^s, and silent walls I 
you I inroke ; to you I address my prayer. While your 
aspect averts, with secret terror, the vulgar regard, it ex- 
cites in my heart the charm of delicious sentiments— sub- 
lime contemplations. What useful lessons, what affecting 
and profound reflections, you suggest to him who knows 
how to consult you ! When the whole earth, in chains and 
silence, bowed the neck before its tyrants, you bad already 
proclaimed the truths which they abhor, and confounding 
the dust of the king with that of Uie meanest slave, had an- 
nounced to man the sacred dogma of Equality. Within 
your pale, in solitary adoration of Liberty, I saw her 
Genius arise from the mansions of th^ dead : not such as 
she is painted by the impassioned multitude, armed with 
fire and sword, but under the august aspect of Justice, 
poising in her hand the sacred balance wherein are weighed 
the actions of men at the gates of eternity ! 

O Tombs ! what virtues are yours ! You appal the ty- 
rant's heart, and poison with secret alarm his impious jo3rs ; 
he flies, with coward step, your incorruptible aspect, and 
erects afar his throne of insolence. You punish the pow- 
erful oppressor ; you wrest from avarice and extortion their 
ill-gotten gold, and you avenge the feeble whom they have 
despoiled ; you compensate the miseries of the poor by the 
anxieties of the rich ; you console the wretched, by open- 
ing to him a last asyluns from distress ; and yon give to the 


soul that just equipoise of strength and sensibility whijh 
constitutes wisdom — the true science of life. Aware that 
all must return to you, the wise man loadeth not himself 
with the burdens of grandeur and of useless wealth : he 
restrains his desires within the limits of justice ; yet, 
knowing that he must run his destined course of life, he 
fiUs with employment all its hours, and enjoys the comforts 
that fortune has allotted him. You thus impose on the im- 
petuous sallies of cupidity a salutary rein ! you calm the 
feverish ardor of enjoyments which disturb the senses ; you 
free the soul from the fatiguing conflict of the passions ; 
elevate it above the paltry interests which torment the 
crowd ; and surveying, from your commanding position, the 
expanse of ages and nations, the mind is only accessible 
to the great affection — to the solid ideas of virtue and of 
glory. Ah ! when the dream of life is over, what will 
then avail all its agitations, if not one trace of utility re- 
mains behind ? 

O Ruins ! to your school I will return ! I will seek 
again the calm of your solitudes ; and there, far from the 
afflicting spectacle of the passions, I will cherish in re- 
membrance the love of man, I will employ myself on the 
means of effecting good for him, and build my own happi- 
ness on the promotion of hia 





In the eleventh year of the reign of Abd-ul-Hamid, son of 
Ahmed, emperor of the Turks — ^when the yictorious Russians 
seized on the Krimea, and planted their standards on the shore 
that leads to Constantinople— 

I was traTelling^ the empire of the Ottomans, and through 
those provinces which were anciently the kingdoms of Egypt 
and Syria. 

My whole attention bent on whatever concerns the happiness 
of man in a social state, I visited cities and studied the manners 
of their inhabitants ; entered palaces, and observed the conduct 
of those who govern ; wandered over the fields, and examined 
the condition of those who cultivate them : and nowhere per- 
ceiving aught but robbery and devastation, tyranny and wretch- 
edness, my heart was oppressed with sorrow and indignation. 

I saw daily on my road fields abandoned, villages deserted, 
and cities in ruin. Often I met with ancient monuments, wrecks 
of temples, palaces, and fortresses; columns, aqueducts, and 
tombs : and this spectacle led me to meditate on times past, and 
filled my mind with serious and profound contemplations. 

Arrived at Hems, on the banks of the Orontes, and being at 
no great distance from Palmyra of the desert, I resolved to see 
its celebrated monuments. After three days travelling through 
an arid wilderness, having traversed the valley of caves and sep- 
ulchres, on issuing into the plain, I was suddenly struck with a 
•cene of the most stupendous ruins — a countless multitude of 


superb columns, stretching in avenues beyond the reach of sight. 
Araong them were magnificent edifices, some entire, others in 
ruins. The ground was covered on all sides with fragments of 
cornices, capitals, shafts, entablatures, pilasters, all of white 
marble, and of the most exquisite workmanship. After a walk 
of three quarters of an hour along these ruins, I entered the 
enclosure of a vast edifice^ formerly a temple dedicated to the 
sun, and accepting the hospitality of some poor Arabian peas- 
ants, who had built their huts on the area of the temple, J re- 
solved to stay some days to contemplate, at leisure, the beauty 
of so many stupendous works. 

Every day I visited some of the monuments which covered 
the plain ; and one evening, absorbed in reflection, I had ad- 
vanced to the valley of sepulchres. I ascended the heights 
which surround it, and whence the eye commands the whole 
group of ruins, and the immensity of the desert. The sun had 
just sunk below the horizon ; a red border of light still marked 
his track behind the distant mountains of Syria ; the full-moon 
was rising in the east on a blue ground over the plains of the 
Euphrates ; the sky was clear, the air Cdifa and serene ; the 
dying lamp of day still softened the horrors of approaching 
darkness ; the refreshing breeze of night attempered the sultry 
emanations from the heated earth ; the herdsmen had led the 
camels to their stalls ; the eye perceived no motion on the dusky 
and uniform plain ; profound silence rested on the desert *, the 
howlings only of the jackal,* and the solemn notes of the bird 
of night, were heard at distant intervals. Darkness now in- 
creased, and already, through the dusk, I could distinguish 
nothing more than the pale fantasies of columns and walls. 
The solitude of the place, the tranquillity of the hour, the maj- 
esty of the scene, impressed on my mind a religious pensive- 
ness. The aspect of a great city deserted, the memory of tiniies 
past, compared with its present state, all elevated my mind to 
high contemplations. I sat on the shaft of a column ; and 
tliei'e, my elbow reposing on my knee, and head reclining on 
my hand, my eyes fixed, sometimes on the desert, sometimes 
on the ruins, I fell into a profound revery. 

* A kind of fox that roves only doriog the nig^t. 




Here, said I, here once flourished an opnient city ; here was 
the seat of a powerful empire. Yes! these places, now so 
desert, were once animated by a liying multitude — a busy crowd 
circulated in these streets now so soUtaiy. Within these walls, 
where a mournful silence reigns, the noise of the arts and shouts 
of joy and festivity incessantly resounded ; these piles of marble 
were regular palaces ; these prostrate pillars adorned the maj- 
esty of temples; these ruined galleries surrounded public places. 
Here a numerous people assembled for the sacred duties of re- 
ligion, or the anxious cares of their subsistence ; here industry, 
parent of enjoyments, collected the riches of all climates, and 
the purple of Tyre was exchanged for the precious thread of 
Serica ;* the soft tissues of Kachemiref for the sumptuous tapes- 
try of Lydia ; the^mber of the Baltic for the pearls and per- 
fumes of Arabia ; the gold of Ophir for the tin of Thule. 

A.nd now a mournful skeleton is all that subsists of this pow 
erful city .' naught remains of its v^st domination, but a doubt- 
ful and empty remembrance ! To the tumultuous throng which 
crowded under these porticoes, has succeeded the solitude of 
death. The silence of the tomb is substituted for the bustle of 
public places. The opulence of a commercial city is changed 
into hideous poverty. The palaces of kings are become a den 
of wild beasts ; flocks fold on the area of the temple, and un- 
clean reptiles inhabit the sanctuary of the gods ! Ah ! how 
has so much glory been eclipsed 1 How have so many labors 
been annihilated ? Thus perish the works of men, and thus do 
empires and nations disappear ! 

And the history of former times revived in my niind. I rec- 

* That is, the silk originally derived from the mountiUiioQs country 
where the great wall terminates, and which appears to have been the 
cradle of the Chinese empire, known to the Latins under the name of 

t Tne shawls which Ezekiel seems to have described, five centuriea 
before our era, under the appellation of Choud-choud. 

26 STHE ItXniSB* 

was then contemplating — Wlio knows, sud I, but such may 
one day be the abandonment of our countries ? Who knows 
if, on the banks of the Seine, the Thames, or the Z«yder-Zee, 
where now, in the tumult of so many enjoyments, the heart and 
the eye suffice not for the multitude of sensations-^who knows 
if some traveller, like myself, shall not one day sit on their si* 
lent ruins, and weep ia solitude oyer the ashes of their inhabit- 
ants and the memory of their greatness ? 

At these words, my eyes filled with tears ; and, coveriog my 
head with the fold of my garment, 1 sunk into gloomy medita- 
tions on human aiiairs. Ah ! hapless man, said I, in my grief, 
a blind fatality sports with thy destiny ! - A fatal necessity rules 
with the hand of chance the lot of mortals ! But no : it is the 
justice of Heaten fulfilling Its decrees! A mysterious God 
exercising his incomprehensible judgments ! Doubtless he has 
pronounced a secret anathema against this land— blasting with 
maledictions the present for the sins of the past generations. 
Oh ! who shall dare to fathom the depths of the Diyinity ?* 

And I remained motionless, plunged in profound melancholy. 



Meanwhilx; a noise struck my ear — like to the agitation of a 
flowing robe, or of slow footsteps on dry and rustling grass. 
Startled, I opened my msintle, and casting around a timid glaucet 
suddenly on my left, by the glimmering light of .the moon 
through the columns and ruins of a neighboring temple,. I 
diought I saw a pale apparition, clothed in large and flowing 
robes, as spectres are represented rising from their tombs. I 
shuddered : and while agitated and hesitating whether to fly or 
to ascertain the object, a deep voice, in solema accents, pro- 
nounced these words : — 

• Fatality is the universal and rooted prejudice of the East : It was 
written, is there the answer to everything : hence result an unconcern 
and apathy the most powerful impediments to instruction and civilization. 

THE Rtmns. 27 

** How long will man importane Heayen with unjnst com^ 
plaint ? How long, with vain clamors, will he accuse Fats as 
the author of his calamities ? Will he, then, never open his 
eyes to the light, and his heart fo'f^ insinuations of truth and 
reason t The light of tnith meets him eveiywbere ; yet he 
sees it not ! The voice of reason strikes his ear, and he hears 
it not ! Unjust man ! if for a moment you can suspend the de- 
lusion which fascinates your senses—if your heart can compr^ 
hend the language of reason, interrogate these ruins f Read 
the lessons which they present to you !-^And you, witnesseg 
of twenty different centuries, holy temples ! venerable tombs ! 
walls once so glorious !— Hippear in the cause of nature herself! 
Approaeh the tribunal of sound reason, and bear testimony 
against unjust accusations ! Come and confound the declama- 
tions of a false wisdom or hypocritical piety, and avenge the 
heavens and the earth of man who calumniates them ! 

** What is that blind fatality, whicfh, without order and with- 
out law, sports with the destiny of mortals ? What is that un- 
just necessity, which confounds the effect of actions, whether 
of wisdom or of folly ? In what consist those anathemas of 
Heaven over this land ? Where is that divine malediction which 
perpetuates the abandonment of diese fields ? Say, monuments 
of past ages ! have the heavens changed their laws, and the 
earth its motion ? Are the fires of the stm extinct in the regions 
of space ? Do the seas no longer emit their vapors ? Are the 
tains and the dews suspended in the air ? Do die mountains 
withhold their springs ? Are the streams dried up 1 and do the 
plants no longer bear fruit and seed ? Answer, generation of 
falsehood and iniquity ! Has God deranged the primitive and 
settled order of things which he himself assigned to nature 1 
Has heaven denied to earth, and earth to its inhabitants, t^e 
blessings which once they proffered ? If nothing has changed 
ia the creation — if the same means exist now which existed be- 
fore, why, then, are not the present what former generations 
were ? Ah ! it is falsely that you accuse iate and Heaven ! It 
is injuriously that you refer to God the cause of your evils ! 
Say, perverse and hypocritical race ! if these places are deso- 
late — ^if powerful cities are reduced to solitude — ^is it God who 
has caused their ruin ? Is it his hand which has overthrown 
these walls, destroyed these temples, mutilated these columns 


or is it the hand of man ? Is it the ami of God which has car- 
ried the sword into your cities^ and fire into your fields, which 
has slaughtered the people, burned the harvests, rooted up treef* 
and ravaged the pastures, or is it the hand of man ? And wheOf 
after the destruction of crops, famine has ensued, is it the ven- 
geance of God which has produced it, or the mad fury of mor- 
tals ? AVhen, sinking under famine, the people have fed on 
impure aliments, if pestilence ensues, is it the wrath of God 
which sends it, or the foUy pf man ? Wlien war, famine, and 
pestilence, have swept away the inh9bitant»f<-if the earth re- 
mains a desert, is it God who h^ depopulated it ? Is it his 
rapacity which robs the husbaddman, ravages the fruitful fields, 
and wastes the earth, or is it the rapacity of those who govern 7 
Is it his pride which ezoites iliurderous wars, or the prid^ of 
kings and their ministers ? Is it the venality of his decisions 
which overthrows the fortunes of fan^ilies, or the corruption of 
the organs of the law ? Are thdr his passions which, under a 
thousand forms, torment individuals and nations, or are they the 
passions of man ? And if, in the angi^ish of their miseries, they 
see not the rem^ies, is it the ignorance of God which is to 
blame, or their ignorance ? Cease, then, mortals, to accuse the 
decrees of Fate, or the judgments of the Divinity ! If God 
is good, will he be the author of your misery ? If he is just, 
will he be the accomplice of your crimes ? No ! the caprice 
of which man complains is not the caprice of destiny ; the dark- 
ness that misleads his reason is not the darkness of God ; the 
source of his calamities is not in the disfant heavens: it is 
beside him on the earth ; it is not concealed in the bosom of 
the divinity ; it resides in man himself; he bears it in his own 

/' Yon murmur and say, How have an infidel people enjoyed 
the blessings of Heaven and earth ? Why is a holy and chosen 
race less fortunate than impious generations ? Deluded man ! 
where, then, is the contradiction which ofiends you ? Where 
is the inconsistency which you impute to the justice of Heav- 
en ? Take into your own hands the balance of rewards and 
punishments — of causes and effects. Say, when those infidels 
observed the laws of the heavens and of the earth — when they 
regulated their intelligent labors by the order of the seasons and 
course of the stars, ought God to have troubled the equiKbrtum 


of the unbene to defeat their prudence! When their hands 
cultivated these fields with toil and care, should he hare di- 
verted the course of the rains, suspended the fertilizing dewa, 
and caused thorns to spring up ? When, to render these arid 
fields productive, their industry constructed aqueducts, dug ca- 
Bids, and led the distant waters across the desert, should he 
have dried up their sources in the mountains ? Should he have 
blasted the harvests whieh art had created, wasted the plains 
which peace had peopled, overthrown cities which labor had 
caused to flourish, disturbed, in fine, the order established by 
the wisdom of roan ? And what is that infidelity, which found- 
ed empires by prudence, defended them by valor, and strength- 
ened them by justice ; which erected powerful cities, formeU 
capacious ports, drained pestilential marshes, covered the sea 
with ships, the earth with inhabitants, and* like the creative 
spirit, diffused life and motion through the world ? If such be 
infidelity, what, then, is the true faith ? Does sanctity consist 
in destruction ? The God who peoples the air with birds, the 
earth with animals, the waters with fishes — the God who ani- 
mates all nature : is he, then, a God of ruins and tombs ? Does 
he ask devastation for homage, and conflagration for sacrifice f 
Requires he groans for hymns, murderers for votaries, a rav- 
aged and desert earth for his temple ? Yet such, holy and be- 
liering people, are your works ! These are the fruits of your 
piety ! You have massacred the people, burnt their cities, de- 
stroyed cultivation, reduced the earth to a solitude ; and you 
ask the rewarS of your works .' Miracles, then, must be per- 
formed, the laborers whom you cut off must be recalled to life, 
the walls re-edified which you have overthrown, the harvests 
reproduced which you have destroyed, the waters gathered to- 
gether which you have dispersed — ^the laws, in fine, of Heaven 
and earth reversed : those laws established by God himself, in 
demonstration of his magnificence and wisdom ; those eternal 
laws anterior to all codes, to all the prophets ; those immutable 
laws, which neither the passions nor the ignorance of man can 
pervert : but that passion which misukes, that ignorance which 
observes not causes, and predicts no effect, has said, in the folly 
of her heart — * Everything comes from chance ; a blind fatality 
dispenses good and evil on the earth, so that prudence and wis- 
dom can not guard against it.* Or else, sssuming the language 



of hjpociisy, she has. said — * AJ things are front Qod ; he takes 
plea»ire in deceiring wisdom and confounding reason ;....' 
and ignorance, applauding herself in her malice, has said — 
* Thus I shall >Jiot be inferior to that sdence which I detest ; I 
will render useless that prudence which fatigues and torments 
me ;' and cupidity has added—-* I will opprete Ihe weak and 
devour the fruits of his labors ; and I will say, It is God who 
decreed and Fate who ordained it so.*'— But I ! I sweai^ by the 
laws of heaven and earth, and by the law which is written in 
the heart of man, the hypocrite shall be deceived in his guile-— 
the oppressor in his rapacity : the sun sbdll change his course, 
before folly shall prevail over wisdom and knowledge, er stupid- 
ity surpass prudence in the delicate and sublime art of procu- 
ring to man his true enjoyments, and of building his happiness 
on a solid foundation 1" 



Thus spoke the Phantom. Astonished at his discourse, and 
my heart agitated with different reflections, I was for some time 
silent. At length, taking courage, I thus addressed him : — 
**0 Genius of tombs and ruins ! your presence, your severity, 
have disordered my senses ; but the justness of your reasoning 
restores confidence to my soul. Pardon my ignorance. Alas I 
if man is blind, can that which constitutes his torment be also 
his crime? I may have mistaken the voice of reason; but 
never knowingly have I rejected her authority. Ah J if you 
read in my heart, you know with what sincerity, with what en- 
thusiasm, it seeks truth. And is it not in pursuit of her that 
you see me in- this sequestered spot ? Alas ! I have wandered 
over the earth — I have visited cities and countries ; and seeing 
everywhere misery and desolation, a sense of the evils which 
oppress my fellow-men have deeply afflicted my soul. I have 
•aid with a sigh. Is man, then, born but for sorrow and anguish } 


And I hmre maditated upon hanoaii miaefMs* that I might find 
out their remedy. I have said, I will sepante myself from cor- 
rupt societies ; I will retire far from palaces where the mind is 
depraved by satiety, and from the hovel where it is debased by 
misery. I will go into the desert and dwell among ruins ; I 
will interrogate ancient monuments on the wisdom of past 
times ; I will inyoke from the bosom of the tombs the spirit 
which once in Asia gave splendor to states, and glory to na- 
tions. I will ask of the adies of legislators, by what secret 
causes do empires rise and fall; from what sourees spring 
the prosperity and misfortunes of nations; on what princi- 
ples can the peace of society and the happiness of man be 

I ceased, and awaited in submissive silence the reply of the 
GeniuSk *^ Peace and happiness," said he, ** attend on him who 
practises justice ! Young man ! since your heart searches after 
truth with sincerity, since you can still recognise her through 
the mist of prejudiee^ your prayer shall not be vain : I will un- 
fold to your view that truth you invoke ; I will teach y<Sur rea- 
son that wisdom you are in search of; I will reveal to you the 
wisdom of the tombs and the science of ages." Then approach- 
ing, and laying his hand on my head, " Rise, mortal," said he, 
*^ and extricate thy senses from the dust in which thou movest." 
Suddenly a celestial flame seemed to dissolve the bands which 
&x us to the earth, and, like a light vapor, borne up on the wings 
of the Genius, I felt myself wafted to the regions above. Then ce, 
from the aerial heights, looking down on the earth, I beheld a 
scene entirely new. Under my feet, floating in the void, a globe, 
like that of the moon, but smaller and less luminous, presented 
to me one of its phases ; and that i^ase had the aspect of a 
disk, variegated with large spots, some white and nebulous, 
others brown, green, or gray ; and while I strained my sight to 
distinguish what were these spots, '* Disciple of Truth," said 
the Genius, ** do you know that object ?" 

" O Genius !" answered I, " if I did not see the moon in 
another quarter of the heavens, I should have supposed that 
to be her globe; it has the appearance of that planet, seen 
through the telescope during the obscuration of an eclipse ; 
these variegated spots might be mistaken for seas and conti* 


«* They are seas knd cootinents," said he, " and those of the 
very hemisphere you inhabit.*' 

*» What !" said I, ** is that the earth, the habitation of man?" 

** Yes," replied he; '*that dusky space, which occupies irreg- 
ularly a great portion of the disk, and envelops it almost on ev- 
ery side, is what you call the great ocean, which, advancing 
from , the south pole toward the equator, forms first the great 
gulf of India and Africa, then extends eastward across the 
Malay blands to the confines of Tartaiy, while toward the west 
it encircles the continents of Africa and Europe, even to the 
north of Asia. 

*' That square peninsula under our feet is the arid country of 
the Arabs; the great continent on its left, almost as naked in its 
Ulterior, with a little verdure only toward its borders, is the 
patched soil inhabited by the black men.* To the north, be- 
yond a long, narrow, and irregular sea,f are the countries of 
Europe, rich in meadows and cultivated fields ; on its right, 
from the Caspian, entend the snowy and naked plains of Tar- 
tary. 'Returning again this way, that white space is the vast 
and dreary desert of Gobi, which separates China from the rest 
of the world. You see that empire in the furrowed plain, which 
seems by a sudden obliquity to escape from the view. On yon- 
der coasts, those narrow necks of land and scattered points are 
the peninsulas and islands of the Malays, the wretched posses- 
sors of the spices and perfumes. That triangle, which advan- 
ces so far into the sea, is the too-famous peninsula of India.t 
You see the winding coiirse of the Ganges, the rough moun- 
tains of Tibet, the lovely valley of Kachemire, the briny deserts 
of Persia, the banks of the Euphrates aod Tygris, the deep bed 
of the Jordan, and the canals of the solitary Nile—" 

<* O Genius !*' said I, interrupting him, *'the sight of a mortal 
reaches not to objects at such a distance." Immediately ho 
touched my eyes, and they became piercing as those of an 

* Africa. t The MediterraneaD. 

t What real advantage does the commerce of India, composed entirely 
of articles of luxury, procure to the mass of a nation ? What are its ef- 
fects, unless to export, hj a marine expense in men, objects of necessity 
and utility, and to import useless commodities, which only serve to mark 
more strongly the difierence between the rich and poor ; and what a mass 
of superstition has not India added to the general superstition. 


eagle ; Deverthidess the rifero still apf>eared tike waTing lines, 
the mountains winding furrows, and the eities little compart* 
ments, like the squares of a chessboatd. 

And the Genius, proceeding to point out the objects to me : 
** Those piles," said he, *« which you see in that narrow Tallej, 
watered by the Nile, are the skeletons of opulent cities, the pride 
of the ancient kingdom of Ethiopia : behold Thebes, with her 
hundred palaces,* that first metropolis of the arts and sciences, 
the mysterious cradle of so many opinions which still goveni 
man without his knowledge. Lower down, those quadrangular 
blocks are the pyramids, whose masses hare astonished you ; 
farther on, ihe coast, hemmed in between the sea and a narrow 
ridge of mountains, was the habitation of the Phoenicians; there 
stood the powerful cities of Tyre, of Sidon, of Ascalon, of 
Oaea, and of Beiytus. This stream of water without an issue 
is the ri?er Jordan, and those naked rocks were once the theatre 
of events which have resounded through the world. Behold 
that desert of Horeb, and that Mount Sinai, where, by means 

* The French expedition to Egypt has proved that Thebes, divided into 
four or five cities, on both banks of the Nile, could not have the hundred 
gates mentioned in Homer. (See the second volume of the Commission 
of Egypt.) The historian Diodorus Siculus had already shown the cause 
of the error, by observing that the oriental word gate signified also a 
.palace (on account of the public vestibule always at its entrance) ^ and 
this author seems to have understood the cause of the Greek traditioD, 
when he adds: *' From Thebes to Memphis, there were along the river 
a hundred royal stables, the ruius of which are still to be seen, and which 
contained each two hundred horses (for the service of the monarch) :" 
all these are exactly the same numbers as Homer's. (See Diodorus Sicu- 
lus, book i., sec. 11, f of the first kkigs of Egypt.) The name of Ethi- 
opians, here applied to the Thebans, is justified by the example of Ho- 
mer, and by the really black color of that people. The expressions of 
Herodotus, when he says that the Egyptians had a black skin and woolly 
hair, coinciding with the head of the sphinx of the pyramids, necessarily 
induced the author of Travels in Syria to believe that this ancient people 
was of negro race ; but all the mummies and engraved heads discovered 
by the French expedition contradict this idea ; and the traveller, yielding 
to evidence, has abandoned his opinion, with several others consigned in 
a chronological memoir, composed at the age of twenty-two, and which 
was erroneously inserted in the Encyclopedia in 4to, 3d vol. of Antiqui. 
ties. Experience and study have enabled him to correct many errors, in 
a late work published at Paris, in 1814 and 1815, entitled New Researches 
on Ancient History. (See the 3d vol., concerning the Egyptians.) 

34 THE BUIN8. 

unknowa to the ▼olgar, a profound and adventurous leader cre^ 
ated institutions whose influence extended to the whole human 
race. On that barren shore, wbieh borders itt you see no log- 
ger any trace of splendor, yet there was an emporium of riches* 
There were those famous Idumean ports,* whence the fleets 
of Phoenicia and Judea, coasting the Arabian peninsula, pene* 
trated into the Persian gulf, to seek there the pearls of Hevila, 
the gold of Saba and of Ophir. Yes, on that coast of Oman, 
and of Bahrain, was the seat of a commerce of luxuries which» 
by its fluctuations and revolutions, fixed the destinies ef ancient 
nations : thither came the spices and precious stones of Ceylon, 
the shawls of Kaehemire, the diamonds of Golconda, the am* 
ber of the Maldives, the musk of Tibet, the aloes of Cochin, the 
apes and peacocks of the Indian continent, the incense of Ha- 
dramant, the myrrh, the silver, the gold dust, and Ivory of Afri- 
ca ; thence passing, sometimes by the Red sea, on the vessels 
of Egypt and Syria, these luxuries nourished successively the 
wealdi of Thebes, of Sidon, of Memphis, and of Jerusalem; 
sometimes, ascending the Tygris and Euphrates, they excited 
the activity of the Assyrians, Medes, Kaldeans, and Persians ; 
and that wealth, according to the use or abuse of it, raised or 
reversed alternately their domination. To this is to be attributed 
the magnificence of Persepoiis, whose columns you still per- 
ceive ; of Ecbatana, whose seven-fold wall exists no more ; of 
Babylon, now level with the ground ; of Nineveh, whose name 
is scarce remembered; of Thapsacus, of Anatho, of Gerra, and 
the desolated Palmyra. O names for ever glorious ! fields of 
renown .' illustrious countries I what sublime lessons does youi 
aspect offer ! what profound truths are written on the surface 
of your soil ! remembrances of times past recur to my mind, 
places, witnesses of the life of man in so many different ages, 
retrace for me the revolutions of his fortune ! say, what were 
their springs and secret causes ! say from what sources he de- 
rived success and disgrace ! unveil to himself the causes of his 

* The cities of Ailah and Atsiom-Gaber, whence the Jews of Solomon, 
guided by the Tyrians of Hiram, set out on their voyage to Ophir, an 
unknown place, concerning which a great deal has been written, but which 
appears to have left some jtraces in Ofor, an Arabian district, at the en- 
trance of the Persian gulf. (See New Researches, vol. I, and Travels in 
Syria, vol. U.) 

THB RaiNS. 3S 

«vi]8 ! collect hhn by the spectacle of his evrore ! teach him the 
wisdom which beloogetfa to him^ and let the experience of past 
ages become a mirror of iostruction, and a germ of happiness 
to present and foture generations 1" 



After a short silence, the Genius resumed ito these words :•*- 
•* I have told you already, O friend of truth, that man vainly 
ascribes his misfortunes to obscure and imaginary agents ; in 
vain he seeks for mysterious and remote causes a£ his ills. In 
the general order of the universe his condition is, doubtless, sub- 
ject to inconveniences, and his existence overruIedl>y superior 
powers ; but those powers are neither the decrees of a blind 
i&tality, nor the caprices of whimsical and fantastic beings ; like 
the world, of which he forms a part, man is governed by natu- 
ral laws, regular in their course, consistent in their effects, im- 
mutable in their essence ; and those laws, the common source 
of good and evil, are not written among the distant stars, or 
hidden in mysterious codes ; inherent in the nature of terrestrial 
beings, interwoven with their existence, they are at all times, 
and in all places, present to man ; they act upon his senses, 
they warn his understanding, and dispense to every action its 
reward or punishment. Let man, then, study these laws ! let 
htm comprehend his own nature, and the nature of the beings 
that surroxmd'him, and he will know the regulators of his des- 
tiny, the causes of bis evifs, and the remedies he ought to 

*• When the secret power which animates the universe formed 
the globe ef the earth, he implanted in the beings by whom it 
is inhabited essential properties. Which became the law of their 
individual motion, the bound of their reciprocal relations, the 
cause of the harmony of the whole ; he thereby established a 
regular order of causes and effects, of principles and consequen- 
ces, which, under an appearance of chance, governs the uni- 
verse, and maintains the equilibrium of the world : thus, he gave 


to fire motton and activity ; to air, elastkitj ; weight and den* 
aity to matter: he made. air lighter than water, metal heavier 
than earth, wood leas cohesive than steel ; he ordered the flame 
to ascend, stones to fall, plants to vegetate : man^ who was to 
be exposed to the action of so many different beings, and whose 
fniil life was, nevertheless, to be preserved, was endowed with 
rbe faculty of sensation. By this faculty, all action hurtful to 
his existence gives him a feeling of pain and evil ; and every 
favorable action an impression of pleasure atad happiness. By 
these sensations man, sometimes averted from that which wounds 
his senses, sometimes allured toward that which sooths them, 
has been obliged to cherish and preserve his own life. Thus, 
self-love, the desire of happiness, aversion to pain, are the essen- 
tial and primary laws imposed on man by Nature herself; the 
laws which the directing power, whatever it be, has established 
for his government, and which, like those of motion in the phys* 
ical world, are the simple and fruitful principle of whatever 
happens in the moral world. 

^* Such, then, is the condition of man : on one side, exposed 
to the action of the elements which surround him, he is subject 
to many inevitable evils ; and if, in this decree. Nature has been 
severe, on the other hand, just, and even indulgent, she has not 
only tempered the evils with equivalent good, she has even en- 
abled him to augment the good and alleviate the evil ; she seems 
to say : * Feeble work of my hands, I owe you nothing, and I 
give you life ; the world wherein I placed you was not made 
for you, yet I grapt you the use of it ; you will find in it a mix- 
ture of good and evil ; it is for you to distinguish them, and to 
direct your footsteps in the paths of flowers and thorns. Be the 
arbiter of your own lot; I put your destiny into your own 
hands.' Yes, man is made the artisan of his own destiny ; it is 
he who has alternately created the successes or teverses of his 
fortune ; and if, on a. review of all the pains with which he has 
tormented his life, he finds reason to weep over his own weak- 
ness or imprudence, yet, considering the beginnings from which 
he set out, and the height attained, perhaps he has more rea- 
son to presume on his strength, and to pride himself on his 




** At first, fonned naked both in body and mind, nran fonnd 
himself thrown, as it were by chanee, on a confused and savage 
land ; an orphan, abandoned by the unknown power that pro- 
duced him, he saw no supernatural beings at hand to warn him 
of those wants which arise only from his senses, or to instruct 
aim in those duties which spring only from his wants. Like 
to other animals, without experience of the past, without fore* 
flight of the future, he wandered in the depth of the forest, 
guided only and governed by the affections of his nature ; by 
the pain of hunger he was led to seek food, and provide for his 
subsistence ; by the inclemency of the air he was urged to cover 
his body, and he made him clothes ; by the attraction of a pow- 
erful pleasure he approached a fellow-being, and he perpetuated 
his race. 

** Thus the impressions which he received from eveiy object, 
awakening his faculties, developed, by degrees, his understand- 
ing, and began to instruct his profound ignorance ; lus wants 
excited industry, dangers formed his courage ; he learned to 
distinguish useful from noxious plants, to combat the elements, 
fo pursue his prey, to defend his life ; and he thus alleviated its 

**Thus self-love, aversion to pain, the desire of happiness, were 
the simple and powerful incentives which drew man from the 
savage and barbarous state in which nature had placed him ; 
and now, when bis life is replete with enjoyments, when he 
may count every day by the comforts it brings, he may applaud 
himself, and say : * It is I who have produced the blessings that 
encompass me ; it is I who am the fabricate of my own felici- 
ty ; a safe dwelling, convenient clothing, wholesome and abun- 
dant nourishment, smiling fields, fertile hills, populous empires, 
all is my work ; without me, this earth, given up to disorder, 
would have been but a filthy fen, a savage forest, and a hideous 
desert.' Yes, creative man, receive my homage! thou hast 
measured the expanse of the heavens, calculated the volume of 



the stars, arrested the lightning in its clouds, subdued seas and 
storms, subjected all the elements. Ah ! how are so many sub- 
lime energies allied to so many errors ! 



'* WANSERiNa in woods, and on the banks of rivers, in pursuit 
of game and fish, the first men, beset with dangers, assailed by 
enemies, tormented by hunger, by reptiles and ravenous beasts, 
felt their own individual weakness ; and impelled by a common 
need of safety, and a reciprocal sentiment of like evils, they 
united their resources and their strength ; and when one incurs- 
red a danger, many aided and relieved him ; when one wanted 
subsistence, another shared his prey with him ; thus men asso- 
ciated to secure their existence, to augment their powers, t« 
protect their enjoyments ; and self-love became the principle of 

*' Instructed afterward by the experience of various and repeat- 
ed accidents, by the fatigues of a wandering hfe, by the distress 
of frequent scarcity, men reasoned with themselves, and said : 
* Why weary ourselves in search of the scattered fruits which 
a parsimonious soil affords ? why exhaust ourselves in pursuing 
prey which eludes us in the woods or waters ? why not collect 
under our hands the animals that nourish us? why not apply 
our cares to multiply and preserve them ? We will feed on 
their increase, be clothed in their skins, and live exempt from 
the fatigues of the day, and solicitude for the morrow.' And 
men, aiding one another, seized the nimble goat, the timid 
sheep ; they tamed the patient camel, the ferocious bull, the 
impetuous horse ; and, applauding their own industry, they sat 
down in the joy of their souls, and began to taste repose and 
comfort ; and self-love, the principle of all reasoning, became 
the instigator to every art, and every enjoyment. 

** When men could thus pass their days in leisure, and the 
communication of their ideas, they began to contemplate the 


*eaurth, the heaTens, and their own existence, as objects of cnri^ 
osity and reflection ; they remarked the course of the seasons, 
the action of the elements, the properties of fruits and plants, 
and apjdied their thoughts to the multiplication of their enjoy- 
ments. And in some countries, haYing observed that certain 
seeds contained a wholesome nourishment in a small volume, 
convenient for transportation and preservation, they imitated the 
prooess of nature ; they confided to the earth rice, barley, and 
wheat, which mnltiplied so as to answer their most sanguine 
hopes r and having found the means of obtaining within a small 
compass, and without removal, plentiful subsistence and dura- 
ble stores, they prepared for themselves fixed habitations ; they 
constructed houses, villages, and towns ; formed societies and 
nations ; and self-love produced all the developments of genius 
and of power. 

'* Thus, by the sole aid of his faculties, man has been able to 
raise himself to the astonishing height of his present fortune. 
Too happy if, observing scrupulousiy the law of his being, he 
had faithfully fulfilled its only^and true object 1 But, by a fatal 
imprudence, sometimes mistaking, sometimes transgressing its 
limits, he has launched forth into a labyrinth of errors and mis- 
fortunes ; and self-love, sometimes unruly, sometimes blind, be- 
came an abuTidant source of calamities. 



'* In truth, scarcely were the faculties of men developed, when, 
inveigled by the attraction of objects which gratify the senses, 
they gave themselves up to inordinate desires. The sweet sen- 
sations which NAT JRE had attached to their real wants, to en- 
dear to them their existence, no longer satisfied them. Not 
content with the fruits offered by the earth, or produced by 
industiy, they wished to accumulate enjoyments, and coveted 
those possessed by their fellow-men ; and the strong man rose 
up against the feeble, to take from him the profit of his labor; 


the feeble inYoked another feeble one to repel the Tioience : aed 
two strong ones then said : ** Why fatigue ourselves to produce 
eojoyments which we may fipd in the hands of the weak ? Let 
us join and despoil them ; they shall labor for us, and we will 
enjoy without labor.** And the strong associating for oppres- 
sion, and the weak for resistance, men mutually afflicted each 
other ; and a general and fatal discord spread over the earth, in 
which the passions, assuming a thousand new forois, have never 
ceased to generate a continued series of calamities. 

'* Thus the same self-love which, moderate and prudent, was a 
principle of happiness and perfection, becoming blind and die- 
ordinate, was transformed into a corrupting poison ; and cufMd- 
ity, offspring and companion of ignorance, became the cause 
of all the evils which have desolated the earth. 

"Yes, Ionorauce and Cupidity ! these are the twin sources 
of all that torments the existence of man ! Biased by these 
ioto false ideas of happiness, he has mistaken or infringed the 
laws of nature in his own relations with external objects, and 
injuring his existence, he has violated individual morality; 
shutting through these his heart to compassion, and his mind 
to justice, he has persecuted and afflicted his equal, and violated 
social morality. Through ignorance and cupidity man has 
armed against man, family against family, tribe against tribe, 
and the earth is become a theatre of blood, of discord, and of 
rapine. By ignorance and cupidity, a secret war, fermenting 
in the bosom of every state, has separated citizen from citizen ; 
and the same society is constituted of oppressors and oppressed, 
of masters and slaves : by these, the heads of a nation, some- 
times insolent and audacious, have forged its chains within its . 
own bowels, and mercenary avarice has founded political des- 
potism : sometimes hypocritical and deceitful, they have called 
from Heaven a lying power, and a sacrilegious yoke ; and cred- 
ulous cupidity has foimded religious despotism : by these, in 
fine, have been perverted the ideas of good and evil, just and 
unjust, vice and virtue ; and nations have wandered in a laby- 
rinth of errors and calamities. The cupidity of man, and his 
ignorance : these are the evil genii that have laid waste the 
earth ! These are the decrees of fate which have overthrown 
empires ! These are the celestial anathemas which have smit- 
ten these walls, once so glorious, and converted the splendor of 


a populous city into a solitude of mourning and of rains ! But 
as in the bosom of man have sprung bA the eTils which afflict 
bis life, there also he is to seek and to find a remedy for them. 



** In fact, the period soon arrived when men, dred of the ewtk 
they occasioned each other, began to sigh for peace ; and, re- 
flecting on the nature of their misfortunes, they said : ^ We 
mutually injure each other by our passions, and, from a desire 
to grasp everything, we in reality possess nothing ; what one 
seizes to-day, another robs to-morrow, and our cupidity reacts 
upon ourselves. Lict us establish arbitrators to judge our claims, 
and settle our differences. When the strong rises up against 
the weak, the arbitrator shall restrain him, and dispose of our 
force to suppress violence ; and the life and property of each 
shall be under the guaranty and protection of all, and all shall 
enjoy the blessings of nature.' 

** Conventions were thus formed ineocia^, sometimes express, 
sometimes tacit, which became the rule of the actions of indi-* 
viduals, the measure of their rights, the law of their reciprocal 
relations ; and persons were appointed to superintend their ob- 
servance, and to these the people confided the balance of rights, 
and the sword to punish transgressions. 

^* Then was established among individuals a happy equilibrium 
of force and action, which constituted the common security. 
The name of equity and of justice was recognised and revered 
over the earth ; every man, assured of enjoying in peace the 
fruits of his toil, exerted all the energies of bis soul ; and in- 
dustry, excited and maintained by the reality or the hope of en- 
joyment, developed all the treasures Vf nature and of art ; the 
fields were covered with harvests, the valleys with flocks, the 
hills with fruits, the sea with vessels, and man was happy and 
powerful upon the earth. 

«* Thus did his own wisdom repair the disorder which his im- 

'42 TBX RtriNS. 

prndence had occasioned ; and that wisdom was only the effect 
of his own organization. It was to secnrs his own enjoy- 
ments that he respected those of others ; and cupidity found its 
corrective in an enlightened self-love. 

** Thus the love of self, the moving principle of every individ- 
ual, became the necessaiy basis of every association ; and on 
the observance of this natural law depended the fate of nations. 
Have the factitious and conventional laws tended to that object, 
and accomplished its aim ? Every man, impelled by a power- 
ful instinct, has displayed all the faculties of his being ; and the 
sum of individual felicities has constituted the general felicity. 
Have these laws, on the contrary, impeded die effort of man 
toward his haj^iness ? His heart, deprived of its exciting prin- 
ciple, has languished in inaction, and from the discouragement 
of the individual has proceeded the weakness of the state. 

*' As self-love, impetuous and improvident, is ever urging man 
against his equal, and consequently tends to dissolve society, 
the art of legislation and the merit of administrators consists in 
attempering the conflict of individual cupidities, in maintaining 
an equilibrium of powers, and securing to evexy one his happi« 
ness, in order diat, in the shock of society against society, all 
the members may have a common interest in the preservation 
and defence of the public weal. 

** Therefore, the internal splendor and prosperity of empires 
were owing to the equity of their laws and government ; and 
their relative external powers have been in proportion to the 
number of individuals interested, and to the degree of their in- 
terest in the public weal. 

*' On the other hand, the multiplication of men, by compli- 
cating their relations, having rendered the precise limitation of 
their rights difficult— the perpetual play of their passions hav- 
ing produced unforeseen incidents— their conventions having 
been vicious, inadequate, or nugatory — in fine, the authors of 
the laws having sometimes mistaken, sometimes disguised their 
object, and their ministers, instead of restraining the cupidity 
of others, having been hurried away by their own : all these 
causes have introduced disorder and trouble into societies ; and 
idcious laws and unjust governments, the result of cupidity and 
ignorance, have caused the misfortunes of nations and the sub- 
venion of states. 

THE RXnifS* 43 



"Such, O youth, who seekest wisdom, have been the causes of 
reTolutioii in the ancient states of which thon contemplatest the 
niins ! To whoever spot I direct mj yiew, to whatever period 
my thoughts recur, the same principles of growth or destruc- 
tion, of rise or f^i, present themselves to my mind. Wherever 
a people is powerful, or an empire prosperous, there the con- 
ventional laws are comformable with the laws of nature : the 
government there procures for its citizens a free use of their 
faculties, equal security for their persons and property. If, on 
the contrary, an empire goes to ruin, or dissolves, it is because 
its laws have been vicious, or imperfect, or trodden under foot 
by a corrupt government. If the laws and government, at first 
wise and just, degenerate afterward, it is because the alternation 
of good and evil derives from thetiature of the heart of man, the 
succession of his propensities, his progress in knowledge, and 
the combination of circumstances and events, as is proved by 
the history of the human species. 

** In the infancy of nations, when men yet lived in thd forest, 
subject* to the same wants, endowed with the same faculties, all 
were nearly equal in strength ; and that equality was a circum- 
stance highly advantageous in the composition of society : ev- 
ery individual thus finding himself sufficiently independent of 
every other, no one was the slave, and no one thought of being 
the master of another. Untaught man knew neither servitude 
nor tyranny ; furnished with resources sufficient for his exist- 
ence, he thought not of borrowing from others. Owing noth- 
ing, exacting nothing, he judged the rights of others by his own, 
and acquired precise notions of justice. Ignorakit, moreover, in 
the art of enjoyments, unable to produce more than his necessa- 
ries, possessing nothing superfluous, cupidity lay dormant;' or 
if excited, man, attacked in his real wants, resisted it with en- 
ergy, and the very foresight of such resistance maintained a sal- 
utary equilibrium. 

"Thus original equality, without a compact, secured peisonal 

44 THB RUIN9. 

liberty, respect for property, morality, and good order. Ereiy 
man labored by himself and for himself, and his heart being oc- 
cupied, wandered not to culpable desires ; his enjoyments wero 
few, but his wants were satisfied, and, as indulgent nature had 
made them less than his resources, the labor of his hands soon 
produced abundance — abundance population ; the arts developed 
themselves, cultivation extended, and the earth, covered with 
numerous inhabitants, was divided into different domains. 

*«The relations of men becoming complicated, the internal or* 
der of societies was more difficult to maintain. Time and in- 
dustry having created affluence, cupidity became more vigilaot* 
and because equality, practicable among individuals, could not 
subsist among families, the natural equilibrium was broken. It 
became necessary to substitute a factitious equilibrium in its 
place — ^to appoint rulers, to establish laws ; and in the primitive 
inexperience, it necessarily happened that these laws, .occa* 
sioned by cupidity, assumed its character. But different cir- 
cumstances concurred to correct the disorder, and impose on 
governments the necessity of being just. 

** States, in fact, being weak at ikst, and having foreign enemies 
to fear, the chiefs found it their interest not to oppress their 
subjects ; for, by lessening the confidence of the citizens in their 
government, they would diminish their means of resistance-^ 
they would facilitate foreign invasion, and, for superfluous en*> 
joyments, endanger their veiy existence. * 

'* In the interior, the character of the people was repugnant to 
tyranny : men had contracted too long habits of independence ; 
they had too few wants, and too great a consciousness of their 
own strength. 

*^ States being of small extent, it was difficult to divide their 
citizens so as to oppress some by means of others : their com- 
munications were too easy, and their interests too simple and 
evident. Besides, every man being at once proprietor and cul- 
tivator, no one was induced to sell himself, and the despot could 
find no mercenaries. 

** If dissensions arose, they were between family and family, 
faction and faction, and they interested a great niimber. The 
troubles indeed were warmer, but fears from abroad pacified 
discord. If the oppression of a party prevailed, the earth being 
stlli unoccupied, and man, still in a state of simphcity, finding 


eveiywhere the same advantages, the injured par^ emigrated, 
and carried elsewhere their independence. 

*«The ancient states then enjoyed within themselves numerous 
means of prosperity and power. Every man finding his own 
well-being in the constitution of his countiy, took a lively inter- 
est in its {reservation. If a stranger attacked it, having to de- 
fend his field, his house, he carried into coihbat all the animos- 
ity of a personal quarrel, aud, devoted to his own interests, he 
was devoted to his countiy. 

'* As every action useful to the public attracted its esteem and 
gratitude, evezy one was eager to be useful, and self-love multi- 
plied talents and civic virtues. 

** Eveiy citizen contributing equally by his goods and his per- 
son, armies and funds were inexhaustible, and nations displayed 
formidable masses of power. 

** The earth being free, and its possession secure and easy, 
eTeiy man was a proprietor ; and the division of property pre- 
served morals, and rendered luxury impossible. 

** Every one cultivating for himself, culture was more active» 
produce more abundant, and individual opulence constituted 
public wealth. 

** The abundance of produce rendering subsistence eaay, pop- 
ulation was rapid and numerous, and states attained quickly the 
term of their plenitude. 

** Productions increasing beyond consumption, the neces- 
sity of commerce was felt, and exchanges took place between 
people and people, which augmented their activity and recipro- 
cal advantages. 

** In fine, certain countries, at certain times, uniting the ad- 
vantages of good government with a position on the route of the 
most active circulation, they became emporiums of flourishing 
commerce, and seats of powerful domination. And on the banks 
of the Nile and Mediterranean, of the Tygris and Euphrates, the 
accumulated riches of India* and of Europe raised in successive 
splendor a hundred metropolises. ^ 

" The people, growing rich, applied their superfluity to works 
of common and public use ; and this was, in every state, the 
epoch of those works whose grandeur astonishes the mind ; of 
those wells of Tyre, of those dikes of the Euphrates, of those 
subterranean conduits of Media, of those fortresses of the des- 


^rt, of those aqueducts of Palmyra, of those t«mple8, those por 
ticoes.* And such labors might be immense, without oppressing 
the nations, because they Were the effect of an equal and emu- 
mon contribution of the force of men animated and free. 

^* Thus ancient states prospered, because their social insdto.-* 
cions were conformable to the true laws of nature, and because 
men, enjoying liberty and security for their persons and their 
property, could display all the extent of their faculties, all the 
energies of their self-love. 



" Cupidity had, nevertheless, excited among men a constant 
and universal conflict. Which incessantly prompting individuals 
and societies to reciprocal invasions, occasioned Buecessive revo* 
lutions, and returning agitations. 

** And first, in the savage and barbarous state of the first men, 
this inordinate and audacious cupidity produced rapine, violence* 
assassination, and retarded for a long time the progress of civ- 

" When afterward societies began to be formed, the effect of 
bad habits, communicated to laws and governments, corrupted 
their institutions and objects, and established arbitraiy and facti- 
tious rights, which depraved the ideas of justice, and the moral- 
ity of the people. 

" Thus, one man being stronger than another,! their inequal- 

* See, respecting these facts, my Travels into Syria, vol. ii., and New 
Researches on Ancient History, vol. iii. 

t Almost all the ancient philosophers and politicians have laid it down 
as a principle,^hat men are bom unequal ; that nature has created some 
to be free and others to be slaves. These are the positive expressions 
of Aristotle in his Politics ; and of Plato, called the divine, doubtless in 
the same sense as the mythological reveries which he promulgated. With 
all the people of antiquity, the Gauls, the Romans, the Athenians, the 
right of the strongest was the right of nations ; and from the same prin- 
ciple are derived all political disorders and public national crinids. 

• THE RUINS. 47 

ity, an accident of nature, was taken for her law ; and the strong 
having spared the weak, whose life was in bis power, arrogated 
over his person an abusive right of property, and the slaTery of 
iDdividuals prepared the way for the slavery of nations. 

*' Be<;anse the head of a family could exercise an absolute 
authority in his own house, he made his affections and desires 
the sole mie of his conduct; he gave or resumed his goods with* 
out equality, without justice, and paternal despotism laid the 
foundation of despotism in government.* And in societies 
formed on such foundations, when time and labor had developed 
riches, cupidity, restrained by the laws, became moVe artful, but 
Dot less active. Under the mask of naion and civil peace, it 
fomented, in the bosom of every state, an intestine war, in 
which the citizens, divided into contending corps of professions, 
claasesv and families, unremittingly struggled to appropriate to 
themselves, under the name of supreme power, the ability of 
plundering ereiy thing, and rendering even^thing subservient to 
the dictates of their passions ; and this spirit of encroachment, 
disguised under all possible forms, but always the same in 
its object and motives^ has been the perpetual scourge of na* 

*^ Sometimes, opposing the social compact, or infringing that 
which already existed, it committed the inhabitants of a country 
to the tumuttuous shodk of all their discords ; and states, thus 
dissolved, and reduced to the condition of anarchy, were tor- 
mented by the passions of all their members. 

** Sometimes a nation, jealous of its liberty, having appointed 
agents to administer, these agents assumed to themselves the 
powers of which they were only the guardians, and employed 
the public treasures in corrupting elections, gaining partisans, 
and dividing the people against itself. By these means, from 

* What is a family? An elementary portion of IfAMngreat body called 
nation. The spirit of this great body is but the sum of its fractions ; as 
the nmnnerslsf the family are, so are the manners of the whole. The 
great vices of Asia are: 1. Paternal despotism ; 2. Polygamy, whkh de- 
moralizes the entire family, ;and which, among kings and princes, causes 
the massacre of t!5e brothers at each succession, and ruins the people io- 
appanages ; 3. The want of landed property, owing to the tyrannical 
right usurped by the despot ; 4. The unequal portioning of children j 6. 
The abusive right of legacies ; 6. The exclusion of women from the in. 
heritance. Change these laws, and you change Asia. 


b«ing temporary, tbey became perpetual, from electiYe, hered- 
itaiy ; and the state, agitated by the intrigues of the ambitious, 
by largesses from the rich and factious, by the venality of the 
indolent poor, by the empiricism of orators, by the boldness of 
perversity, and the weakness of the virtuous, was convulsed with 
all the inconveniences of democracy. 

** In some countries the chiefs, equal in strength, and mutu- 
ally fearing each other, formed impious pacts, nefarious associ- 
ations, and, portioning out power, rank, and honors, arrogated 
to themselves privileges and immunities; erected themselves into 
separate orders and distinct classes ; united in enslaving the peo* 
pie ; and, under the name of aristocracy, the state was tormented 
by the passions of the wealthy and the great* 

.** In other countries, tending by other means to the same ob- 
ject, sacred impostors have taken advantage of the credulity of 
the ignorant. In the gloom of their temples, behind the cur* 
tain of the altar, thej|made their gods act and speak, delivered 
oracles, worked miracles, ordered sacrifices, levied oflTeriogs, 
prescribed endowments, and, under the names of theocracy and 
religion, the states were tormented by the passions of the 

'* Sometimes a nation, weary of its dissensions, or of its ty- 
rants, to lessen the sources of evil, submitted to a single master: 
but, if it limited his powers, his sole aim was to enlarge them ; 
if it left them indefinite, he abused the trust confided to him ; 
and, under the name of monarchy, the state was tormented by 
the passions of kings and princes. ' 

**• Then the factions, availing themselves of the general dis- 
content, flattered the people with the hope of a better master, 
dealt out gifts and promises, deposed the despot to take his 
place; and their contests for the succession, or its partition, 
tormented the state with the disorders and devastations of civil 

** In fine, among these rivals, one more artful, or more fortu- 
nate, gained the ascendancy, and concentrated all power within 
himself: by a strange phenomenon, a single individual mastered 
millions of his equals against their will, or without their consent, 
and the art of tyranny was also the offspring of cupidity. In fact, 
observing the spirit of egotism which incessantly divides mankind, 
the ambitious man fomented it with dexterity— flattered the vani- 


ty ofone, esiicitedtke jealousy of another, favored the avarice of this, 
inflamed the resentment of that, and irritated the passions of all ; 
then, placing in opposition their interests and prejudices, he sowed 
divisions and hatreds, promised to the poor the spoils of the rich, 
to the rich the subjection of the poor, threatened one man by an- 
other, this class by that, and, insulating all by distrust, created hia 
strength by their weakness, and imposed the yoke of opinion 
which they mutually riveted on each other. With the army he 
levied cootributions, and with contributions he disposed of the 
army ; lavishing wealth and office on these principles, he en- 
chained a whole people in indissoluble bonds, and they lan- 
guished under the slow consumption of despotism. 

** Thus did a same principle, varying its action under every 
possible form, unremittingly attenuate the consistence of states, 
and an eternal circle of vicissitudes flowed from an eternal circle 
of passions. 

'* And this constant spirit of egotism an4 usurpation produced 
two principal effects equally destructive : the one, a division and 
subdivision of societies into their smallest fractions, inducing a 
debility which facilitated their dissolution ; thp other, a perse- 
vering tendency to concentrate power in a single hand,* which, 
by a successive absorption of societies and states, was fatal to 
their peace and social existence. 

** Thus, as in a state, a party absorbed the nation, a family the 
party, and an individual the family ; so a movement of absorp- 
tion took place between state and state, and exhibited on a larger 
scale in the political order, all the particular evils of the civil or- 
der. Thus a state, having subdued a state, held it in subjection 
in the form of a province ; and two provinces, one of which had 
swallowed up the other, formed a kingdom : Anally, two king- 
doms being united by conquest, gave birth to empires of gigan- 
tic size ; and in this conglomeration the interna] strength of 

• It is remarkable that this has, in all instances^ been the constant 
progress of societies ; beginning with a state of anarchy or democracy, 
that is, with a great division of power, they have passed to aristocracy, 
and from aristocracy to monarchy : does it not follow, from this historic 
cal fact, that those who constitute states under the- democratic form des- 
tine them to undergo all the intervening troubles between that and mon- 
archy ; but it should, at the same time, be proved that social experience 
is already exhausted for the human race, and that this spontaneous move* 
ment is not solely the effect of ignorance. 



States, instead of iDcreasiog, dimmished ; and the condilion of 
the people, instead of ameliorating, became daily more irksome 
and wretched, for causes constantly derived from the nature of 

*^ Because, in proportion as states increased in extent, their 
administration becoming more difficult and complicated, greater 
energies of power were necessary to move such masses, and 
there was no longer any proportion between the duties of sore- 
reigns and their ability to perform their duties : 

<* Because despots, feeling their weakness, feared whatever 
might develop the strength of nations, and studied only how to 
enfeeble them : 

** Because nations, divided by the prejudices of ignorance 
and hatred, seeoii|f0d by the perversity of governments, and 
availing themselves reciprocally of satellites, aggravated their 
mutual slaveiy : 

*< Because, the balance between states being destroyed, the 
strong more easily oppressed the weak : 

♦• Finally, because, in proportion as states were concentrated, 
the people, despoiled of their laws, of their usages, and of the 
governments that suited them best, lost that spirit of per- 
sonal identification with the government which gave them en- 

" And despots, considering empires as their private domains, 
and the people as their property, abandoned themselves to 
depredations, and to all the licentiousness of the most arbitraiy 

^* And all the strength and wealth of nations were diverted to 
private expense and personal caprice ; and kings, fatigued with 
• gratification, launched into all the extravagances of a factitious 
and depraved taste : they must have gardens erected upon ar- 
cades, rivers raised over mountains, fertile fields converted into 
haunts for wild beasts, lakes scooped in dry lands, rocks elevated 
in lakes, palaces built of marble and porphyiy, furniture of gold 
and diamonds. Under the cloak of religion, their pride foundt i 
temples, endowed indolent priests, built, for vain skeletons, ex- 
travagant tombs, mausoleums, and pyramids \* millions of hands 
were employed in sterile labors ; and the luxuiy of princes, im- 

* The learned Dupuis could not be persuaded that the pyramids were 
tombs 'f but, besides the positive testimony of historians, read what Dl* 

THE RUnCS* 51 

ttated by their parasites, and descendiDg step by step to the 
lowest ranks, became a general source of corruption and im- 

" And in -the insatiable thirst of enjoyment, the ordinary reve- 
Dues no longer sufficing, they were aagnented ; the cultivator, 
seeing his labors increase without retribution, was disheart- 
ened ; the merchant, despoiled, was disgusted with industry ; 
the multitude, condemned to eternal poverty, restrained their 
labor to simple necessaries, and all productive activity van- 

«' The surcharge of taxes rendering lands a burdensome pos- 
session, the poor proprietor abandoned his field, or sold it to the 
powerful, and fortune became concentrated in a few hands. All 
the laws and institutions favoring this accumulation, the nation 
became divided into a group of indolent rich, and a multitude 
of mercenary poor. The people were degraded with indigence, 
the great depraved with satiety, and the number of those inter- 
ested in the preservation of the state decreasing, its strength and 
existence became proportionably precarious. 

*( On the other hand, emulation finding no object, science no 
encouragement, the mind sunk into profound ignorance. 

•* The administration being secret and mysterious, there ex- 
isted no means of reform or amelioration ; the chiefs governing 
by force or fraud, the people viewed them as a faction of public 
enemies, and all harmony ceased between the governors and 

odorus says of the religious and superstitious importance every Egyptian 
attached to building his eternal dwelling, book i. 

Daring twenty years, says Herodotus, a hundred thousand men labored 
every day to btdld the pyramid of the Egyptian king Cheops. Supposing 
only three hundred days a year, on account of the sabbath, there will be 
thirty millions of days* work in a year^and six hundred millions in twen- 
ty years j at 15 sous a day, this makes 450 millions pf francs lost, with- 
out any further benefit. With this sum, if the king had shut the isthmus 
of Suez by a strong wall, like that of China, the destinies of Egypt might 
have been entirely changed. Foreign invasions would have been stopped, 
prevented, and the Arabs of the desert would neither have conquered nor 
harassed that country. Sterile labors ! how many millions lost in putting 
one stone upon another, under the forms of temples and churches ! AI- 
chymists convert stones into gold ^ but architects change gold into stone. 
Wo to the kings (as well as subjects) who trust their purse to these two 
classes of empirics I 


'* All these vices having enervated the states of opulent Asia, 
the vagrant and indigent inhabitants of the adjacent deserts and 
mountains coveted the enjoyments of the fertile plains, and, 
nrged by a cupidity common to all, attacked the polished em- 
pires, and overturned the thrones of their despots; and these 
revolutions were rapid and easy, because the policy of tyrants 
had enervated the subjects, razed the fortresses, destroyed the 
warriors ; and because the oppressed subjects remained with- 
out personal interest, and the mercenary soldiers without 

•* And hordes of barbarians having reduced entire nations to 
slaveiy, the empires formed of conquerors and conquered united 
in their bosom two classes essentially opposite and hostile. All 
the principles of society were dissolved ; there was no longer 
any common interest, any public spirit ; and there arose a dis- 
tinction of castes and races, which reduced into a regular sys- . 
tem the maintenance of disorder ; and according as a man was 
born, of this or that blood, he was born a slave or a tyrant, prop- 
erty or proprietor. 

** The oppressors being less numerous than the oppressed, it 
was necessaiy to perfect the science of oppression, in order to 
support this false equilibrium. The art of governing became 
the art of subjecting the many to the few. To enforce an obe- 
dience so contrary to instinct, the severest punishments were 
established ; and the cruelty of the laws rendered manners atro- 
cious. The distinction of persons establishing in the state two 
codes, two orders of justice, two sets of laws, the people, placed 
between the propensities of the heart, and the oath uttered from 
the mouth, had two consciences in contradiction with each 
other; and the ideas of justice and injustice had no longer any 
foundation in the understanding. 

"Under such a system, the people fell into dejection and 
despair. And the accidents of nature being added to the other 
evils which assailed them, in the despondency caused by so 
many calamities, they attributed their 9auses to superior and 
hidden powers ; and because they saw tyrants on earth, they fan- 
cied others in heaven; and superstition aggravated the misfor- 
tunes of nations. 

" Hence originated fatal doctrines, gloomy and misanthropio 
systems of religion, which painted the gods malignant and en* 


Tions, like their despots. Man, to appease them, oflTered up the 
sacrifice of all his eDJoyments ; he eoyirooed himself in prim- 
tions, and reversed the laws of nature. Coneeiying his pleas- 
ures to be crimes, his sufferings expiations, he endeavored to 
love pain, and to abjure the love of self ; he persecuted his sen- 
ses, hated his life ; and a self-denying and anti-social morality 
plunged nations into the apathy of death. 

" But provident nature having endowed the heart of man with 
inexhaustible hope, when he found his desires of happiness all 
baffled on this earth, he pursued it into another world : by a 
sweet illusion he created for himself another country — ^an asy- 
lum where, far from tyrants, he should recover the rights of his 
nature ; and thence resulted new disorders. Smitten with an 
imaginary world, man despised that of nature ; for chimerical 
hopes, he neglected the reality. *His life began to appear a toil- 
some journey — a painful dream ; his body a prison, the Sbstacle 
to his felicity ; and the earth, a place of exile and of pilgrimage, 
not worthy of culture. ^ Then a holy indolence spread over the 
political world ; the fields were deserted, empires depopulated, 
monuments neglected and deserts multiplied ; ignorance, super- 
stition, and fanaticism, combining their operations, overwhelmed 
the earth with devastation and ruin. 

^* Thus agitated by their own passions, men, whether collec- 
tively or individually taken, always greedy and improvident, 
passing from slavery to tyranny, from pride to servility, from 
presumption to despondency, have made themselves the per- 
petual instruments of their own misfortunes. 

^^ These, then, are the principles, simple and natural, which 
regulated the destiny of ancient states ; by this regular and 
connected series of causes and effects, they rose or fell, in pro- 
portion as the physical laws of the human heart were respected 
or violated ; and in the course of their successive changes, a 
hundred different nations, a hundred empires, by turns hum- 
bled, elevated, conquered, overthrown, have repeated for the 
earth their instructive lessons. Yet these lessons were lost for 
the generations which have followed 1 The disorders of times 
past have reappeared in the present age ! The chiefs of the 
nations have continued to walls in the paths of falsehood and 
tyranny ! the people to wander in the darkness of superstitioa 
and ignorance i 



•'Since then," continued the Genius, " with new-collected 
energy-^-since the experience of past ages is lost for the living, 
since the eirrors of progenitors have not instracted their descend- 
ants, the ancient examples are about to reappear ; the earth will 
see renewed the tremendous scenes it has forgotten. New rev- 
olutions will agitate nations and empires ; powerful thrones will 
be again overturned, and terrible catastrophes will teach man- 
kind that the laws of nature and the precepts of wisdom and 
truth can never be infringed with impunity." 



Tbus Spoke the Genius. Struck with the justice and cohe- 
rence of his discourse — assailed with a crowd of ideas, repug- 
nant to my habits, yet convincing to ray reason, I remained ab- 
sorbed in profound silence. At length, while with serious and 
pensive mien, I kept ray eyes fixed on Asia, suddenly in the 
north, on the shores of the Btack sea and in the fields of the 
Krimea, clouds of smoke and flame attracted my attention : they 
appeared to rise at the same time from all parts of the peninsula, 
and, passing by the isthmus into the continent, they ran, as if 
driven by a westerly wind, along the muddy lake of Azof, and 
disappeared in the grassy plains of Kouban; and following 
more Skttentively the course of these clouds, I observed that 
they were preceded or followed by swarms of moving creatures, 
which, Hke ants or grasshoppers disturbed by the foot of a pas- 
senger, agitated themselves with vivacity : sometimes these 
Bwarms appeared to advance and rush against each other, and 
numbers, after the concussion, remained motionless. While 
disquieted at this spectacle, I strained my sight to distinguish 
the objects : — *• Do you see," said the Genius, " those flames 
which spread over the earth ? and do you comprehend their 
causes and effects ?" — ** O Genius," I answered, " I see those 
columns of flame and smoke, and something like insects accom- 
panying them ; but when 1 can scarcely discern the great mass- 


es of cUies and mooumeots, how should I discover such little 
creatures ? only it should seem that these insects mimic battles, 
for they advance, retreat, attack, and pursue." — ** It is do mock- 
ery/' said the Genius, ^Uhese are real battles." — ** And what 
mad animalcules," said I, <*are those which destroy each other? 
— beings of a day I will they not perish soon enough ?"— Then 
the Genius, again touching my sight and hearing — " Look," 
said he, " and hear." — Immediately directing my sight toward 
the same objects — "Ah! wretches," cried I, oppressed with 
grief; "these columns of flames! these insects! O Genius, 
they are men — these are the ravages of war ! These torrents 
of flame rise from towns and villages ! I see the squadrons 
who kindle them, and who sword in hand overrun the country ; 
they drive before them crowds of old men, women, and chil- 
dren — fugitive and desolate. I perceive other horsemen, who 
with shouldered lances accompany and guide them. I even 
recognise them to be Tartars, by their led horses, their kalpaks, 
and tufts of hairs ; and doubtless they who pursue, in triangu- 
lar hats and green uniforms, are Muscovites, — ^Ah I I now com- 
prehend — a war is kindled between the empire of the czars and 
that of the sultans !" — " Not yet," replied the Genius ; " this is 
only a preliminary : these Tartars have been, and might still 
be, troublesome neighbors ; the Muscovites are driving them 
off, finding their country would be a convenient extension of 
their own limits ; and as a prelude to another revolution, the 
throne of the Guerais is destroyed." 

And, in fact, I saw the flussian standards floating over the 
Krimea — and soon after their flag waving on the Euxine. 

Meanwhile, at the cry of the flying Tartars, the Mussulman 
empire was in commotion. " They are driving off our breth- 
ren," cried the children of Mahomet ; " the people of the 
prophet are outraged ! infidels occupy a consecrated land, and 
profane the temples of Islamism ! Let us arm ! let us rush to 
combat, to avenge the glory of God and our own cause !" 

And a general movement of war took place in both empires. 
Armed men, provisions, stores, and all the murderous apparatus 
of battle, were everywhere assembled ; and the temples of both 
nations, besieged by an immense multitude, presented a specta- 
cle which fixed all my attention. On one side, the Mussulmans 
assembled before their mosques, washed their hands and feet. 


pared their nails, and combed their beard ; then spreadib^ •« 
pets upon the ground, and turning toward the south, with their 
arms sometimes crossed and sometimes extended, they made 
genuflexions and prostrations ; and recollecting the disaslers of 
the late war, they exclaimed : " God of mercy and clemency ! 
hast thou then abandoned thy faithful people ? Thou who hast 
promised to thy Prophet the empire over nations, and stamped 
his religion by so many triumphs, dost thou deliver thy true 
believers to the swords of infidels ?" And the Imams and the 
Santons said to the people : " It is in chastisement of your 
sins : you eat pork, you drink wine, you touch unclean things. 
God hath punished you. Do penance, therefore ; purify, re- 
peat the profession of faith :^ fast from the rising to the setting 
sun ; give the tenth of your goods to the mosques ; go to Mec- 
ca : and God will render you victorious." And the people, re- 
covering courage, uttered loud cries : •* There is but one God," 
said they, transported with fury, " and Mahomet is his prophet : 
cursed be the man who believeth not ! — God of mercy, grant us 
to exterminate these Christians : it is for thy glory we fight, 
and our death is a martyrdom for thy name." — And then, offer- 
ing victims, they prepared for battle. 

On the other side, the Russians, kneeling, said : " Kender 
thanks to God, and celebrate his power ; he hath strengthened 
our arm to humble his enemies. Hear our prayers, O merciful 
God : to please thee, we will pass three days without eating 
cither meat or eggs. Grant us to exterminate these impious 
Mahometans, and to overturn their empire : to thee we will 
consecrate the tenth of our spoils ; to thee we will raise new 
temples." And the priests filled the churches with a cloud of 
smoke, and said to the people ; *' We pray for you, God ac- 
cepteth our incense, and blesseth our arms. Continue to fast 
and to fight : confess to us your secret crimes ; give your wealth 
to the church : we will absolve you from your sins, and you 
shall die in a state of grace." And they sprinkled water upon 
the people, distributed among them, as amulets and charms, 
small relics of the dead : and the people breathed nothing but 
"war and slaughter. 

Struck with this contrasting picture of the same passions, and 
lamenting their baneful consequences, I was considering how 
• There is but one God, and Mahomet is his prophet. 


diffictzlt it would be for the comraoD judge to comply with suofa 
coDtradictoiy demands, when the Genius, inflamed with anger, 
indignantly exclaimed : — 

" What accents of madness strike my ear ; what blind and 
perverse delirium disorders the spirits of the nations ! Sacri* 
legions prayers, rise not from the earth ! — and you, oh Heayens, 
reject their homicide tows and impious thanksgivings ! Delu- 
ded mortals ! is it thus you revere the Divinity ? Say, how 
should he, whom you call you common father, receive the 
homage of his children murdering one another ? Ye victors ! 
with what eye should he view your hands reeking in the blood 
he has created ? And what do you expect, oh vanquished, from 
unavailing groans ? Hath God the heart of a mortal, with pas- 
sions ever changing ? Is he, like you, agitated with vengeance 
or compassion, with wrath or repentance ? What base con- 
ception of the most sublime of beings ! According to them, it 
would seem that God, whimsical and capricious, is irritated or 
appeased as a man ; that he loves and hates alternately ; that 
he punishes or favors ; that, weak or wicked, he broods over 
his hatred ; that contradictory or perfidious, he lays snares to 
entrap ; that he punishes the evils he permits ; that be foresees 
but hinders not crimes ; that, like a corrupt judge, he is bribed 
by offerings ; like an ignorant despot, he makes laws and re- 
vokes them ; that, like a savage tyrant, he grants or resumes 
favors without reason, and can only be appeased by servility 
.... Ah ! now I know the lying spirit of man ! Contempla- 
ting the picture he hath drawn of the Divinity, No, said I, it is 
not God who hath made man, but man who hath made God 
after his own image ; he hath given him his own mind, clothed 
him with his own propensities, ascribed to him his own judg- 
ments .... And when in this medley he finds the contradic- 
tion of his own principles, affecting hypocritical humility, he 
imputes weakness to his reason, and names the absurdities of 
his own mind mysteries of God. 

** He hath said : God is immutable; yet he offers prayers to 
change him. He hath pronounced him incomprehensible; yet 
he is never without interpreters. 

** Imposters have arisen on the earth who haye called them- 
selves the confidants of God, and who, erecting themselves into 
teachers of the people, have opened the ways of falsehood and 


iniquity ; they have ascribed merit to practices iodifierent or 
ridiculous ; they have supposed a virtue in certain postures, in 
pronouncing certain words, articulating certain names ; they 
have transformed into a crime the eating of certain meats, the 
drinking of certain liquors, on one day rather than on another. 
The Jew would rather die than labor on the sabbath ; the Per- 
sian would endure suffocation, before he would blow the fire 
with his breath ; the Indian places supreme perfection in be- 
smearing himself with cow-dung, and pronouncing mysteriously 
Aum ;* the Mussulman believes he has expiated eveiy thing in 
washing his head and arms, and disputes, sword in hand, wheth- 
er the ablution should commence at the elbowf or finger ends; 
the Christian would think himself datoned, were he to eat flesh 
instead of milk or butter. Oh, sublime doctrines ! Doctrines 
truly from Heaven ! Oh, perfect morals, and worthy of martyr- 
dom or the apostolate ! I will cross the seas to teach these ad- 
mirable laws to the savage people, to distant nations ; I will say 
unto them, * Children of nature, how long will you walk in the 
paths of ignorance ? How long will you mistake the true prin- 
ciples of morality and religion ? Come and learn its lessons 
from nations truly pious and learned, in civilized countries: 
they will inform you, how, to gratify God, you must in certain 
months of the year languish the whole day with hunger and 
thirst ; how you may shed you neighbor's blood, and purify 
yourself from it by professions of faith and methodical ablu- 
tions; how you may steal his property and be absolved on 
sharing it with certain persons, who devote themselves to its 

^* Sovereign and invisible power of the universe ! mysterious 

* This word, in signification, and nearly in sound, resembles the Aeuum 
(sevum) of the Latins— eternity, unbounded time. According to the 
Indians, this word is the emblem of the tripartite divinity : A denotes 
Bramah (the time past that created), U, Vichenou (the time present 
that preserves), M, Chiven (the time future that shall destroy). 

t This is one of the grand points of schism between the partisans of 
Omar and those of Ali. Suppose two Mahometans to meet on a jour- 
ney, and to accost each other with brotherly affection : the hour of 
prayer arrives ; one begins his ablution at his fingers, the other at the 
elbow — and instantly they are mortal enemies. In other countries, if a 
man eats meat on one day rather than on another, a cry of indignation 
will be raised against him. By what name are we to call such follies ? 


moFer of nature I uniirenal soul of beings I thou who art un- 
known, yet revered by mortals under so many names .' being 
incomprehensible and infinite ! God, who in the immensity of 
the heavens directest the movement of worlds, and peoplest the 
abyss of space with millions of suns ! say, what do thes9 human 
insects, which my sight no longer discerns on the earth, appear 
in thy eye ? To thee, who art guiding stars in their orbits, 
what are those wormlings writhing themselves in the dust ? 
Of what import to thy immensity, their distinctions of parties 
and sects ? And, of what concern the subtleties with wliich 
their folJy torments itself? 

*^ And you, credulous men, show me the effect of your prac- 
tices ! In so many centuries, during which you have been fol* 
lowing or altering them, what changes have your prescriptions 
wrought in the laws of nature ? Is the sun brighter ? Is the 
course of the seasons varied ? Is the earth more fruitful, or its 
inhabitants more happy ? If God is good, can your penances 
please him ? If infinite, can your homage add to his glory ? 
If his decrees have been formed on foresight of every circum- 
stance, can your prayers change them ? Answer, inconsistent 
men ! 

" Ye conquerors of the earth, who pretend you serve God ! 
doth he need your aid ? If he wishes to punish, hath he not 
earthquakes, volcanoes, and thunder, at command ? And can 
not a merciful God correct without extermination ? 

" Ye Mussulmans, if God chastiseth you for violating the five 
precepts, how hath he raised up the Franks who ridicule them ? 
If he governeth the earth by the Koran, on what principles did 
he judge, before the days of the prophet, so many nations who 
drank wine, ate pork, went not to Mecca, and whom he never- 
theless permitted to raise powerful empires? How did he 
judge the Sabeans of Nineveh and of Babylon ; the Persian, 
worshipper of fire ; the Greek and Koman idolaters ; the an- 
cient kingdoms of the Nile ; and your own ancestors, the Ara- 
bians and Tartars ? How doth he yet judge so many nations 
who deny or know not your worship : the numerous castes 
of Indians, the vast empire of the Chinese, the sable race of 
Africa, the islanders of the ocean, the tribes of America ? 

" Presumptuous and ignorant men, who arrogate the earth 
to yourselves I if God were to unite together all the generations 


past and present, "what would be, in their ocean, the sects, call- 
ing themselyes universal, of Christians and Mussulmans? 
What would be the judgments of his equal and common jus- 
tice over the real universality of mankind ? Therein it is that 
your knowledge loseth itself in incoherent mysteries ; it is there 
that truth shines with evidence ; and there are manifested the 
powerful and simple laws of nature and reason — laws of a com- 
mon and general mover ; of an impartial and just God, who 
sheds rain on a country without asking who is its prophet ; who> 
causeth his sun to shine alike on all the races of men, on the 
white as on the black, on the Jew, the Mussulman, the Chris- 
tian, and the Idolater ; who reareth the harvest wherever culti- 
vated with care ; who prospereth every empire where justice is 
practised, where the powerful man is restrained, and the poor 
protected by the laws— where the weak live in safety, and every 
one enjoys the rights given him by nature and a compact formed 
in justice. 

" These are the principles by which people are judged ! this 
is the true religion which regulates the destiny of empires, and 
which, O Ottomans, has governed yours ! Interrogate your 
ancestors, ask of them by what means they rose to greatness, 
when, feWf poor, and idolaters, they came from the deserts of 
Tartary, and encamped in these fertile countries; ask if it was 
by Islamism, till then unknown to them, that they conquered 
the Greeks and the Arabs, or by their courage, their prudence, 
moderation, spirit of union, the true powers of the social state. 
Then the sultan himself dispensed justice and maintained disci- 
pline ; the prevaricating judge, the extortionate governor, were 
punished, and the multitude lived at ease ; the cultivator was 
protected from the rapine of the janissary, and the fields pros- 
pered ; the highroads were safe, and ctmmerce produced abun- 
dance. You were a band of plunderers, but just among your* 
selves ; you subdued nations, but did not oppress them.' Har- 
assed by their own princes, they preferred being your tributa- 
ries. What matters it, said the Christian, whether my master 
breaks or adores images, if he renders justice to me ? God will 
judge his doctrine in heaven. 

" You were sober and hardy, your enemies timid and effemi- 
nate ; you were expert in battle, your enemies unskilful ; your 
lead'^rs experienced, your soldiers warlike and obedient : booty 


excited ardor, brayeiy was rewarded ; cowardice and indisciplint 
puDished ; and all the springs of the human heart were in ac- 
tion : thus you vanquished a hundred nations, and of a mass of 
conquered kingdoms compounded an immense empire. 

** But other mapners have succeeded ; and in the reverses at- 
tending them, the laws of nature have still exerted their force. 
After devouring your enemies, your cu{»dity, always insatiable, 
has reacted on itself, and, concentrated in your own bowels, has 
consumed you. Having become rich, you have quarrelled for 
partition and enjoyment ; and disorder arose in every class of 
society. The sultan, intoxicated with grandeur, has mistaken 
the object of his functions, and all the vices of arbitrary power 
have been developed. Meeting no obstacle to his appetites, he * 
has become a depraved being ; weak and arrogant, he has kept 
the people aloof, and the voice of the people has no longer in- 
structed and guided him. Ignorant, yet flattered, neglecting all 
instruction, ail study, he has fallen into imbecility ; unfit for 
business, he has thrown its burden on hirelings, and these have 
deceived him. To gratify their own passions, they have stimu- 
lated and nourished his ; they have multiplied his wants, and 
his enormous luxuty has consumed eveiything ; the frugal ta- 
ble, plain clothing, and simple dwelling of his ancestors no lon- 
ger sufficed ; to supply his pomp, earth and sea were exhaust- 
ed ; the rarest furs were brought from the poles ; the most 
costly tissues from the equator : he has devoured at a meal tho 
tribute of a city, and expended in a day the revenue of a prov- 
ince. He is surrounded with an army of women, eunuchs, and 
satellites. They tell him that liberality and munificence are the 
virtues of kings, and the treasures of the people have been de- 
livered into the hands of flatterers ; in imitation of their master^ 
his servants also must have splendid houses, the most exquisita 
furniture, carpets embroidered at great cost, vases of gold and 
silver for the vilest purposes, and all the riches of the empire, 
have been swallowed up in the Serai. 

^* To supply this inordinate luxury, the slaves and women 
have sold their influence, and venality has introduced a general 
depravation ; the favor of the sovereign has been sold to the 
vizier, and the vizier has sold the empire. The law has been 
sold to the cadi, and the cadi has made sale of justice. The 
altar has been sold to the priesf, and the priest has sold the 



kingdom of hearen. And gold obialning eyeiy&ing» they 
sacrificed everything to obtain gold : for gold the friend be- 
trayed his friend ; the child his parent ; the servant his mas- 
ter; the wife her honor; the merchant his conscience; and 
good faith, morals, concord, and strength, were banished from 
the state. 

** The pacha, who purchased the government of his proyince, 
considered it as his farm, and practised in it every species of ex- 
tortion. He 9ol(] in turn the collection of the taxes, the com- 
mand of the troops, the administration of the villages, and, as 
evtty employ has been transient, rapine, spread from rank to 
rank, has been greedy and precipitate. The revenue officer has 
fleeced the merchant, and commerce was annihilated ; the aga 
has plundered the husbandman, and culture declined. The 
laborer, deprived of his stock, has been unable to sow ; when 
the taxgatherer came he was unable to pay ; threatened with 
the bastonade, he was forced to borrow ; money, from want of 
security, being locked up from circulation, bore an enormous 
interest, and the usury of the rich has aggravated the misery of 
the laborer. 

^* When excessive droughts and accidents of seasons have 
blasted the harvest, the government admitted no delay, no indul- 
gence for the tax ; and distress bearing hard on the village, a 
part of its inhabitants have taken refuge in the cities ; and their 
burden falling on those who remained, has completed their ruin, 
and depopulated the country. 

** If driven to extremity by tyranny and outrage, the villages 
have revolted, the pacha rejoices : he wages war on them, as- 
sails their houses, pillages their property, carries off th^ir stock ; 
and when the fields have become a desert, * What care I V says 
he ; * I go away to-morrow.' 

*' The earth wanting laborers, the rains of heaven and over- 
flowings of torrents have stagnated in marshes, and their putrid 
exhalations, in a warm climate, have caused epidemics, plagues, 
and diseases of all sorts ; whence have flowed additional depop* 
ulation, penury, and ruin. 

** Oh, who can enumerate all the calamities of tyrannical gov- 
ernment ! 

" Sometimes the pachas make war on each other, and for 
their personal quarrels the provinces of the same state are laid 


waste. Sometimes, feariog their masters, they attempt iode- 
pendenee, and draw on their subjects the chastisement of their 
revolt. Sometimes, dreading their sabjects, they call in and 
subsidize strangers, and to insure their fidelity set no bounds 
to their depredations. Here they persecute the rich, and de- 
spoil them under false pretences ; there they suborn false wit- 
nesses, and impose penalties for supposititious offences : every- 
where they excite the hatred of parties, encourage informations 
to obtain amercements, extort property, seize persons; and 
when their short-sighted avarice has accumulated into one mass 
all the riches of a country, the government, under pretence of 
avenging the oppressed people, takes to itself by an execrable 
perfidy all their spoils with those of the culprit, and sheds use- 
less blood for a crime of which it is the accomplice. 

" Oh wretches, monarchs or ministers, who sport with the 
lives and fortunes of the people ! is it you who gave breath to . 
man, that you dare take it from him ? do you give growth to 
the plants of the earth, that you may waste them ? do you toil 
to furrow the field ? do you endure the ardor of the sun, .and 
the torments of thirst, to reap the harvest or thrash the sheaf? 
^0 you watch, like the sheplierd, in the nocturnal dew? do you 
traverse deserts, like the merchant? Ah! on beholding the 
pride and cruelty of the powerful, I was transported with indig- 
nation, and have said in my wrath : * Will there never arise on 
the earth men who will avenge the people and punish tyrants] 
a handful of brigands devour the multitude, and the multitude 
submits to be devoured ! Oh, degenerate people ! know you oot 
your rights ? All authority is from you, all power is yours. 
In vain kings command you, on the authority of God and of 
their lance — soldiers, be still; if God supports the sultan, he 
needs not your aid ; if his sword suffices, he ^ants not yours ; 
let us see what he can do alone. The soldier^rounded their 
arms; and behold these masters of the world, feeble as the 
meanest of their subjects ! People ! know that those who gov- 
ern are your chiefs, not your masters ; your agents, not your 
owners ; that they have no authority over you, but by you, and 
for you ; that your wealth is yours, and they accountable for it ; 
that, kings or subjects, God has made all men equal, and no 
toortal has a right to oppress his fellow-creature.' 

*^But this nation and its chiefs have mistaken these holy 


trnths. They must abidet then, the cooseqneoces of their 
bHadness. The decree is past ; the day approaches when this 
colossus of power shall be crushed and crumbled under its own 
mass : yes, I swear by the ruins of so many empires destroyed ! 
the empire of the crescent shall share the fate of the despotism 
it imitated. A nation of strangers shall drive the aultan from his 
metropolis ; the throne of Orkhan shall be overturned, the last 
shoot of his trunk shall be broken off; and the horde of Ogu- 
zians,* deprived of their chief, shall disperse like that of the 
Nogais : in this dissolution, the people of the empire, loosened 
from the yoke which united them, shall resume their ancient 
distinctions, and a general anarchy shall follow, as happened in 
the empire of the Sophis, until there shall arise among the Ara- 
bians, Armenians, or Greeks, legislators who may compose new 
states. Oh, if there were on earth men profound and bold ! 
what elements of grandeur and gloty ! But already the hour 
of destiny approaches. The cry of war strikes my ear, and the 
catastrophe begins. In vain the sultan leads forth his armies, 
his ignorant warriors are beaten and dispersed ; in vain he calls 
his subjects, their hearts are ice ; * it is written,* say they, * what 
matters who is our master ? we can not lose by the change/ 
In vain the true believers invoke Heaven and the prophet; the 
prophet is dead, and relentless Heaven answers : * Cease to in- 
voke me ; you have caused your own misfortunes, cure them 
yourselves. Nature has established laws, your part is to obey 
them ; observe, reason, and profit by experience. It is the folly 
of man which ruins him, let his wisdom save him. The people 
are ignorant, let them acquire instruction; their chiefs are wick- 
ed, let them correct and amend ; for such is Nature's decree.' 
Since the evils of society spring from cupidjty^and jgnorance, 
men will never cease t o be pex aftcuted, tiUlEey become enlight- 
ened and wise ;»till they practise ^stice, founded on a knowledge 
of their relations, and of the laws of their organization." 

• Before the Turks took the name of their chief Othman I., they bore 
that of Oguzians j and it was under this appellation that they were driven 
out of Tartary by Gengiz, and came from the borders of the Gihoun to 
settle in Anadoli. 




At these words, oppressed with the painful sentiment with 
which their severity overwhelmed me : " Wo to the nations !" 
cried I, bursting into tears; **wo to myself! Ah! now it is 
that I despair of the happiness of man ! Since his miseries pro- 
ceed from his heart, since he himself must apply the remedy* 
wo for ever to his existence ! Who, indeed, will ever be able 
to restrain the lust of wealth in the strong and powerful ? Who 
can enlighten the ignorance of the weak ? Who can teach the 
multitude to know their rights, and force their chiefs to perform 
their duties ? Thus the race of man is always doomed to suf- 
fer ! Thus the individual will not cease to oppress the individ- 
ual, a nation to attack a nation, and days of prosperity, of glory, 
for these regions shall never return. Alas ! conquerors will 
come ; they will drive out the oppressors, and fix themselves 
in their place ; but, inheriting their power, they will inherit 
their rapacity ; and the earth will have changed tyrants, but not 
the tyranny." 

Then turning to the Genius : " O Genius !*' said I, " despair 
has sunk into my soul : knowing the nature of man, the per- 
versity of those who govern, and the debasement of the gov- 
erned, have disgusted me with life ; and since there is no choice 
but to be the accomplice or the victim of oppression, what re- 
mains to the man of virtue but to join his ashes to those of the 
tomb !" 

The Genius, fixing on me a look of severity, mixed with com- 
passion, replied, after a few moments* silence, " Does virtue, 
then, consist in dying ? The wicked man is indefatigable in 
consummating his crime, and the just is discouraged from doing 
good at the first obstacle he meets ! But such is the heart of 
man ; success intoxicates him with confidence, a reverse over- 
turns and confounds him : always given up to the sensation of 
the moment, he never judges things by their nature, but by the 
impulse of passion. Mortal, who despairest of the human race, 
on what profound combinations of facts and of reasoning hast 


thou established thy conclusion ? Hast thou scrutinized the 
organization of sensible beings, to determine with precision 
whether the instinctive force which moves them on to happi- 
ness is essentially weaker than that which repels them from it ? 
or, embracing in one glance the history of the species, and judg- 
ing the future by the past, hast thou shown that, all improve- 
ment is impossible ? Say ! has human society, since its origin, 
made no progress toward knowledge and a better state ? Are 
men still in their forests, destitute of everything, ignorant, stu- 
pid, and ferocious ? Are all the nations still in that age when 
nothing was seen upon the globe but brutal robbers and brutal 
slaves ? If at any time, in any place, individuals have ameliora- 
ted, why shall not the whole mass ameliorate ? If partial so- 
cieties have improved, what shall hinder the improvement of 
society in general ? And if the first obstacles are overcome, why 
should the others be insurmountable ? 

** Are you of opinion that the human race is degenerating 7 
Guard against the illusion and,.the paradoxes of the misanthrope: 
man, dissatisfied with the present, ascribes to the past a perfec- 
tion which never existed, and which only serves to cover his 
chagrin. He praises the dead out of hatred to the living, and 
beats the children with the bones of their fathers. 

" To prove this pretended retrograde progress from perfec- 
tion, we must contradict the testimony of reason and of fact ; 
and if the facts of history are in any measure uncertain, we must 
contradict the living fact of man's organization ; we must prove 
that he is bom with the enlightened use of his senses ; that, 
without experience, he can distinguish aliment from poison; 
that the child is wiser than the old man ; that the blind walks 
with more safety than the clear-sighted ; that the civilized man 
is more miserable than the cannibal ; in a word, that there is no 
ascending scale in experience and Instruction. 

** Young man, believe the voice of tombs, and the testimony 
of monuments : some countries have doubtless fallen from what 
they were at certain epochs ; but, if we weigh the wisdom and 
happiness of their inhabitants, even in those times, we shall find 
more of splendor than of reality in their glory ; we shall find, 
in the most celebrated of ancient states, enormous vices and 
cruel abuses, the true causes of their decay ; we shall find, iu 
general, that the principles of government were atrocious ; that 


insolent robberies, barbarous wars, and implacable hatreds, were 
raging from nation to nation;* that natural right was unknown; 
that morality was perverted by senseless fanaticism and deplora-^ 
ble superstition ; that a dream, a vision, an oracle, were con* 
stantly the causes of vast commotions : perhaps the nations are 
not yet entirely cured of all these evils ; but their intensity at 
least is diminished, and the experience of the past has not been 
wholly lost. For the last three centuries, especially, knowledge 
has increased and been extended ; civilization, favored by happy 
circumstances, has made a considerable progress, inconvenien* 
ces and abuses have even turned to its advantage ; for, if states 
have been too much extended by conquest, the people, by uni* 
ting under the same yoke, have lost the spirit of estrangement 
and division which made them all enemies one to the other ; if 
the powers of government have been more concentrated, there 
has been more system and harmony in their exercise ; if wars 
have become more extensive in the mass, they are less bloody 
in the detail ; if men have gone to battle with less personality, 
less energy, their struggles have been less sanguinafy and less 
ferocious, they have been less free, but less turbulent, more ef- 
feminate, but more paciiSc. Despotism itself has rendered them 
some service ; for, if governments have been more absolute, 
they have been more quiet and less tempestuous ; if thrones 
have become a property and hereditary, they have excited less 
dissensions, and the people have suffered fewer convulsions ; 
finally, if the despots, jealous and mysterious, have interdicted 
all knowledge of their administration, all concurrence in the 
management of public affairs, the passions of men, drawn aside 
from politics, have attended to the arts, and the sciences of 
nature, and the sphere of ideas in every direction has been en- 
larged : man, devoted to abstract studies, has better understood 
his place in the system of nature, and his relations in society ; 
principles have been better discussed, final causes better ex- 
plained, knowledge more extended, individuals better instructed, 
manners more social, and life more happy ; the species at large, 
especially in certain coufltries, has gained considerably; and 

• Read the history of the wars of Rome and Carthage, of Sparta and 
Messina, of Athens and Syracuse, of the Hebrews and the Phoenicians • 
yet these are the nations which antiquity celebrates as being most pol 


this amelioratioQ can not but increase in fature, because its 
two principal obstacles, those even which, till then, had ren- 
dered it so slow and sometimes retrograde, the difficulty of 
transmitting ideas and of communicating them rapidly, have 
oeen at last removed. 

** Indeed, among the ancients, each canton, each city, having 
a peculiar language, the consequence was favorable to igno- 
rance and anarchy. There was no communication of ideas, no 
participation of discoveries, no harmony of interests or of wills, 
no unity of action or design ; besides, the only means of trans- 
mitting and of propagating ideas being that of speech, fugitive 
and limited, and that of writing, tedious of execution, expensive 
and scarce, the consequence was a hinderance of present in- 
struction, loss of experience from one generation to another, 
instability, retrogradation of knowledge, and a perpetuity of 
confusion and childhood. 

" But in the modern world, especially in Europe, great na- 
tions having allied themselves in language, and established vast 
communities of opinions ; the minds of men are assimilated, 
and their affections expanded ; there is a sympathy of opinion, 
and a unity of action ; then that gift of heavenly genius,^ the 
holy art of Printing, having furnished the means of communi- 
cating in an instant the same idea to millions of men, and of 
fixing it in a durable manner, beyond the power of t^rrants to 
arrest or annihilate, there arose a mass of progressive instruc- 
tion, an expanding atmosphere of science, which assures to fu- 
ture ages a solid amelioration. This amelioration is a necessary 
effect of the laws of nature ; for, by the law of sensibility, man 
as invincibly tends to render himself happy, as the flame to 
mount, the stone to descend, or the water to find its level. Hia 
obstacle is his ignorance, which misleads him in the means, and 
deceives him in causes and effects. He will enlighten himself 
by experience, go right by dint of errors, grow wise and good 
because it is interest to be so ; and in a nation, ideas being 
communicated, whole classes will gain instruction ; science will 
become a vulgar possession, and all men will know what are 
the principles of individual happiness and of public prosperity ; 
they will know the relations they bear to society, their duties, 
and their rights ; they will learn to guard against the illusions 
of the lust of gain ; they will perceive that morality is a phy» 


ical science, composed, indeed, of elements complicated in their 
operation, but simple and invariable in their nature, since thej 
are only the elements of the organization of man. They will 
see the propriety of being moderate and just, beeause in that is 
found the advantage and security of each ; they will perceive 
that the wish to enjoy at the expense of another is a false cal- 
culation of ignorance, because it gives rise to reprisal, hatred, 
and vengeance, and that dishonesty is the never-failing offspring 
of folly. 

** Individuals will feel that private happiness is allied to pub- 
lic good : 

^* The weak that, instead of dividing their interests, they ought 
to unite them, because equality constitutes their force : 

** The rich, that the measure of enjoyment is bounded by tho 
constitution of the organs, and that lassitude follows satiety : 

" The poor, that the employment of time, and the peace of 
the heart, compose the highest happiness of man. 

" And public opinion, reaching kings on their thrones, will 
force them to confine themselves within the limits of regular 

** Even chance itself, serving the cause of nations, will some- 
times give them feeble chiefs, Who, from weakness, will suffer 
them to become free ; and sometimes enlightened chiefs, who, 
from a principle of virtue, will free them. 

**And when nations, free and enlightened, shall become like 
great individuals, the whole species will have the same facilities 
as particular portions have now ; the communication of knowl- 
edge will extend from one to another, and reach the whole. 
By the law of imitation, the example of one people will be fol- 
lowed by others, who will adopt its spirit and its laws. Even 
despots, perceiving that they can no longer maintain their au- 
thority without justice and beneficence, will soften their sway 
from necessity, from rivalship; and civilization will become 

** There will be established among the several nations an 
equilibrium of force, which, restraining them all within the 
bounds of a just respect for their reciprocal rights, shall put an 
end /to the barbarous practice of war, and submit their disputes 
to civil arbitration ; the human race will become oae great so- 
ciety, one individual family, governed by the same spirit, by 


common laws, and enjoying all the happiness of which their 
nature is susceptible. 

*• Doubtless this great work will be long accomplishing, be- 
cause the same movement must be given to an immense body ; 
the same leaven must assimilate an *enormous mass of hetero« 
geneous parts. But this movement shall be effected ; its pre* 
sages are already to be seen. Already the great society, assu- 
ming in its course the same characters as partial societies have 
done, is evidently tending to a like result. At first disconnected 
in all its parts, it saw its members for a long time without cohe- 
sion ; and this general solitude of nations formed its first age of 
anarchy and childhood : divided afterward by chance into irreg- 
ular sections, called states and kingdoms, it has experienced the 
fatal effects of an extreme inequality of wealth and rank ; and 
the aristocracy of great empires has formed its second age : 
then, these lordly states disputing for pre-eminence, have ex- 
hibited the period of the shock of factions. At present, the 
contending parties, wearied with their discord, feel the want of 
laws, and sigh for the age of order and peace. Let but a virtu- 
ous chief appear ! a just, a powerful people arise I and the earth 
will raise them to supreme power ; the world is waiting for a 
legislative people ; it wishes and demands it ; and my heart 
hears its voice." — Then turning toward the West — " Yes," con- 
tinued he, ** a hollow sound already strikes my ear : a ciy of 
liberty, proceeding from far distant shores, resounds on the an- 
cient continent. At this cry, a secret murmur against oppression 
is raised in a powerful nation ; a salutary inquietude alarms her 
respecting her situation ; she inquires what she is, and wha^ 
she ought to be, while, surprised at her own weakness, she in- 
terrogates her rights, her resources, and what has been the con- 
duct of her chiefs. Yet another day— a little more reflection — 
and an immense agitation will begin ; a new-born age will 
open ! an age of astonishment to vulgar minds, of surprise and 
terror to tyrants, of emancipation to a great nation, and of hope 
to the human race." 




The Genius ceased. — ^But, preoccupied with melancholy 
thoughts, my mind resisted persuasion ; fearing, however, to 
■hock him by my resistance, I remained silent. — After a while, 
turning to me with a looli which pierced my soul—" You are 
silent,'* said he, " and your heart is agitated with thoughts which 
it dares not utter!" — Confused and terrified — "O Genius J" I 
made answer, " pardon my weakness : doubtless your mouth 
can utter nothing but truth ; but your celestial intelligence can 
seize its rays, where my grosser faculties discern nothing but 
clouds. I confess it : conviction has not penetrated my soul, 
and I feared that my doubts might offend you." 

" And what is doubt," replied he, " that it should be a crime ? 
Can man feel otherwise than as he is affected ? If a truth be 
palpable and of importance in practice, let us pity him who 
misconceives it: his blindness will bring on its own punish- 
ment. If It be uncertain or equivocal, how is he to find in it 
what it has not ? To believe without evidence or proof, is an 
act of ignorance and folly : the credulous man loses himself in 
a labyrinth of contradictions : the man of sense examines and 
discusses, that he may be consistent in his opinions ; the honest 
man will bear contradiction, because it gives rise to evidence. 
Violence is the argument of falsehood ; and to impose a creed 
by authority, is the act and indication of a tyrant." 

Encouraged by these words — " O Genius !" said I, *« since 
my reason is free, I strive in vain to entertain the flattering hope 
with which you endeavor to console me. The sensible and 
rirtuous soul is easily caught with dreams of happiness ; but a 
cruel reality constantly awakens it to suffering and wretched- 
ness. The more I meditate on the nature of man, the more 1 
examine the present state of societies, the less possible it ap- 
pears to realize a world of wisdom and felicity. I cast my eye 
over the whole of our hemisphere : I perceive in no place the 
germ, nor do I foresee the instinctive energy of a happy revo- 
lution. All Asia lies buried in profound darkness. The Chi 


nese, degraded by a bamboo despotism,'*'' blinded by astrological 
superstitioD, reetraioed by an immutable code of gestures, by 
the radical vices of an ill-constructed ]anguage,f and still more 
defective writing, appear to be, in their abortive civiFization, 
nothing but a people* of automatons. The Indian, borne down 
by prejudices, and enchained in the sacred fetters of his castes, 
vegetates in an incurable apathy. The Tartar, wandering or 
fixed, always ignorant and ferocious, lives in the 'savageness of 
his ancestors. The Arab, endowed with a happy genius, loses 
its force and the fruits of his virtue in the anarchy of his tribes 
and the jealousy of his families. The African, degraded from 
the rank of man, seems irrevocably doomed to servitude. In 
the north, I see nothing but vilified serfs, herds of men, with 
which the landlords stock their estates. Ignorance, tyranny, 
and wretchedness, have everywhere stupefied the nations ; and 
vicious habits, depraving the natural senses, have destroyed the 
very instinct of happiness and of truth. In some countries of 
Europe, indeed, reason ha^ begun to dawn ; but even there, do 
nations partake of the knowledge of individuals ? Are the tal- 
ents and genius of governors turned to the benefit of the peo- 
ple ? And those nations which call themselves polished, are 
they not the same that for the last three centuries have filled 
the earth with their injustice ? Are they not those who, under 
the pretext of commerce, have desolated India, dispeopled a 
new continent, and subject Africa at present to the most barba- 
rous slavery ? Can liberty be bom from the bosom of despots ? 
apd shall justice be rendered by the hands of piracy and extor- 
tion ? O Genius ! I have seen the civilized countries, and the 
illusion of their wisdom has vanished from my sight : I saw 
riches accumulated in the hands of a few, and the multitude 
poor and destitute. I have seen all rights, all powers, concen- 
tred in certain classes, and the mass of the people passive and 
dependant. I have f een families of princes, but no families of 
the nation. I have seen government interests, but no public 

* The Jesuits have endeavored to represent under favorable colors the 
Chinese government j it is now kno\^ to be a piu-e oriental despotism. 

t The Chinese people proves to us that in antiquity, until the discovery 
0f alphabetical writing, the human understanding found it very difficult 
to advanoe, as before Arabian ciphers it was very difficult to settle ac- 
counts. All depends on method : and China can only be changed by ao 
alteration in its language. 


iDterests or spirit* J have seeo that all the aoience of gover»* 
ment was to oppress prudently ; and the refined servitude of 
polished nations appeared to roe only the more irremediable. 

** One obstacle above all has profoundly struck my mind. On 
surveying the globe, I have seen it divided into twenty difierent 
^Btems of religion : every nation has received, or formed, op- 
posite opinions ; and every one ascribing to itself the exclusive 
possession of the truth, must believe the other to be wrong. 
Now if, as must be the fact in this discordance of opinion, thn 
greater part are in an error, and are sinoere in it, then it follows 
that our mind embraces falsehood as it does truth ; and if 80» 
how is it to be enlightened ? When prejudipe has once seised 
the jnind, how is it to be dissipated ? How shall we remove 
the bandage from our eyes, when the first article in every creed, 
the first dogma in all reUgion, is the absolute proscription of 
doubt, the interdiction of examination, and the rejection of our 
own judgment ? How is truth to make herself known ? if she 
resorts to arguments and proofs, the^timid man stifles the voice 
of his own conscience ; if she invokes the authority of celestial 
powers, the prepossessed man opposes it with another author- 
ity of the same origin, and calls all innovation blasphemy. 
Thus man in his blindness has riveted his own chains, and sur- 
rendered himself for ever, without defence, to the sport of his 
ignorance and his passions. To dissolve such fatal chains, a 
miraculous concurrence of happy circumstances would be ne- 
cessary : a whole nation, cured of the delirium of superstition, 
roust be inaccessible to the impulse of fanaticism ; freed from 
the yoke of false doctrine, a whole people must impose upon 
itself that of true moraUty and reason : this people should bo 
courageous and prudent, wise and docile; each individual, 
knowing his rights, should not transgress them ; the poor 
should know how to resist seduction, and the rich the allure* 
ments of avarice ; there should be found leaders disinterested 
and just, and their tyrants should be seized with a spirit of mad- 
ness and folly : this people, recovering its rights, should feel its 
inability to exercise them in person, and should name its repre* 
sentatives ; creator of its magistrates, it should know at once to 
respect and to judge them ; in the sudden reform of a whole 
na^on, accustomed to live by abuses, each individual displaced 
should bear with patience his privations, and submit to a change 



of habits ; this nation should hare the conrage to conquer its 
liberty, the power to defend it, the wisdom to establish it, and 
the generosity to extend it to others : — ^and can we ever expect 
the union of so many circumstances ? But suppose that chance, 
in its infinite combinations, should produce them, shall I see 
those fortunate days ? Will not my ashes long ere then be cold 
in the tomb ?" 

Here, sun^in sorrow, my oppressed heart no longer found 
utterance. — The Genius answel:ed not, but I heard him say, in 
a low voice — ** I must revive the hope of this man ; for if he 
who loves his fellow-creatures be suffered to despair, what will 
become of nations ? The past is, perhaps, too discouraging ; I 
must anticipate futurity, and disclose to the eye of virtue the 
astonishing age that is ready to begin ; that, on viewing the ob- 
ject she desires, she may be animated with new ardor, and re- 
double her efforts to attain it." 



ScARCELT had he finished these words, when a great noise 
arose in the west ; and turning to that quarter, I perceived, at 
the extremity of the Mediterranean, in one of the nations of 
Europe, a prodigious movement — such as when a violent sedi- 
tion arises in a vast city — a numberless people, rushing in all 
directions, pour through the streets and fluctuate like waves in 
the public places. My ear, struck with the cries which re- 
sounded to the heavens, distinguished these words : — 

" What is this new prodigy ? What cruel and mysterious 
scourge is this ? We are a numerous people, and we want 
hands ! we have an excellent soil, and we are in want of sub* 
sistence ! we are active and laborious, and we live in indigence .' 
we pay enormous tributes, and we are told they are not suffi- 
cient I we are at peace without, and our persons and property 
are not safe within I Who, then, is the secret enemy that de* 
V >urs us ?" 

•THE RJJOfS* 75 

Some voicest from the midst of the multitude, replied : — 
'* Raise a discrimiaating etaodard, and let aH those who main- 
tain and nomrish mankind by useful labors gather round it, and 
you will discover the enemy that preys upon you." 

The standard being raised, this nation divided itoelf at once 
into two unequal bodies, of a contrasted appearance : one, innu- 
memble, and almost total, exhibited, in the general poverty of 
its clothiog*, in its emaciated aj^arance and sun-burnt faces, 
the marks of misery and labor ; the other, a little group, an im- 
perceptible faction, presented, in its rich attire bedaubed with 
gold and silver, and in its sleek and ruddy faces, the signs of 
leisure and abundance. 

Considering these men more attentively, I found that the 
great body was composed of farmers, artificers, merchants, all 
professions useful to society, and that the little group was made 
up of the ministers of worship of every order (monks and 
INfiests), of financiers, nobles and men in livery, of the com- 
manders of troops and other hireling agents of government. 

These two bodies being assembled face to face, and regarding 
each other with astonishment, I saw indignation and rage arising 
in one side, and a sort of panic in the other ; and the larger said 
to the smaUer body : — 

** Why are you separated from us 1 are you not of our num- 
ber V 

*♦ No," replied the group : " you are the people ; we are a 
privileged class, who have our laws, customs, and rights, pecu- 
liar to ourselves." 
People. — ** And what labor do you perform in our society ?" 
Privileged CLass.-^^'' None ; we are not made to work." 
People, — " How, then, have you acquired these riches ?" 
Privileged Class. — " By taking the pains to govern you." 
People. — "What ! we toil, and you enjoy ! we produce, and 
you dissipate ! Wealth proceeds from us ; you absorb it, and 
you call this governing ! — Privileged class, distinct body not 
belonging to us, form your nation apart, and we shall see how 
you will subsist." 

Then the smaller group, deliberating on this new state of 
things, some just and generous men among them said : *^ We 
must join the people, and bear our part of the burden, for they 
are men like us, and our riches come from them." But other* 


arroganUy extiairaed ; ** It would be a shame, an infamy, for as 
to mingle with the crowd ; they are bom to aerre ue. Are we 
not the Doble and pure deaceodants of the conqnerors of this 
empire ? This maltitude must be reminded of our rights and 
its own origin/' 

The NobUs. — *< People! know you not tfaiat our ancestors 
conquered this land, and that your race was spared only on 
condition of serving us ? This is our social compact ! this the 
government constituted by custom and prescribed by time." 

PeopU* — ** O conquerors, pure of blood ! show us your gene* 
alogies ! we shaJl then see if what in an individual is robbery 
and plunder, can be virtuous in a nation." 

And forthwith, voices were heard in every quarter calling out 
the nobles by their names ; and relating their origin and parent* 
age, they told how the grandfather, great-grandfather, or even 
father, born traders and mechanics, after acquiring wealth io 
eveiy way, had purchased their nobility for money : so that but 
very, few families were really of the original stock. ** See,** 
said these voices, ** see these purse-proud commoners who deny 
their parents! see these plebeian recruits who look on them- 
selves as illustrious veterans !"•*— and peals of laughter were 

To stifle them, some astucious men cried out : ** Mild and 
faithful people, acknowledge the legitimate authority :* the king 
wills, the law ordains." 

* To ascertain the signification of the word legitimate^ it should be 
considered that it comes from the Latin legp-intimug — intrinsic in the 
law, written in it. If, therefore, the law is made by the prince alone, 
the prince alone makes himself legitimate : then he is merely a despot ; 
his will is the law. This is not what is meant, for the same right would 
be transferred to the power that should overturn him. What is the law 
(the source of right) ? The Latin also informs us : from legerey to read 
lectio-'is derived tec, rea /ec/a--thing read : this thing read is an order to 
do, or not to do, a particular action, and this on condition of penalty or 
reward attached to the observance or infringement. This order is read 
to those concerned, that they might not plead ignorance. It was writ* 
ten, that it might be read without any alteration : such is the significap 
tion, and such the origin, of the word taw. Hence the several epithets 
of which it is susceptible^ wise law, absurd law, just law, unjust law, 
according to the effect resulting from it, and it is this effect which char- 
acterizes the power whence it proceeds. Now, in the social state, in 
the govenunent of men. what is just and unjost? Justice consists in 


People.-^* Privileged claw, explain the word legitimate : if 
It meaos coDformable to intriDsic in the law, say who made the 
law ? Can the law ordain anything else than the preservation 
of the multitude?" 

Then the militaiy governors sand : ^ The multitude will only 
submit to force ; we must chastise them. Soldiers, strike this 
rebellious people !** 

People. — ** Soldiers ! you are of our blood ! Will you strike 
your brothers, your relations ? If the people perish, who will 
nourish the army ?'- 

And the soldiers, grounding their arms, said : '* We are like- 
wise the people ; show us the enemy !" 

Then the ecclesiastical governors said : '* There is but one 
resource left : the people are superstitious ; we must frighten 
them with the name of God and religion. 

** Our dear brethren ! our children ! God has ordained us to 
govern you." 

People. — ** Show us ydur powers from God !" 

Priests. — " You must have faith ; reason leads astray." 

PeopU.^^^^ Do you govern without reason ?" 

Priests. — ** God commands peace : religion prescribes obedi« 

Ptople."^^^ Peace supposes justice ; obedience implies con 
vletion of a duty." 

Priests. — *^ Suffering is the business of tjiis wwld." 

People. — ** Show us the example." 

preserving or restoring to each individual what belongs to him ; conse- 
quently, 1st, life, which he owes to a power aboTe all ; Sd, the use of 
the senses and faculties given him by that same power ; 3d, the enjoy- 
ment of the fruits of his labor : and all this, as long as he injures noC 
these same rights in others ; for, if he does injure them, there is inju» 
tice — ^that is to say, a breach of equality and equilibrium between man 
and man. But the greater the number of the injured, the more injustice 
is committed: consequently, if, as is the fact, what is called the people 
composes the immense majority of a nation, it is the interest, the happi- 
ness of that minority, which constitutes justice. This truth is well ex> 
pressed by the axiom : Solus populi, suprema Ux ea^o— the safety of the 
people, this is the law, this is legitimacy. And observe that solus does 
not say the will, as some fanatics have infagined ; for, first, the people 
may be deceived ; then how is this collective and abstract will to be 
expressed? experience proves it. Solus popuU! the art is to know and 
to accomfdish it. 



Priests. — " Would you live with gods or kings ? 
P^opfe.-^" We would live without oppressors.'* 
Priests, — " You must have roediators, intercessors.'* 
People* — " Mediators with God, and with the king ! courtiers 
and priests, your services are too expensive ; we will henceforth 
manage our own affairs." 

And then the little group said : ** All is lost * the multitude is 

And the people answered : "All is safe ! Since we are en- 
lightened, we will commit no violence; we only claim our 
rights. We feel resentments; but we forgot them : we were 
slaves — ^we might command ; but we only wish to be^ree, and 
liberty is but justice." 



Considering now that all public power was suspended, and 
that the habitual restraint of the people had suddenly ceased, I 
shuddered with the apprehension that they would fall into the 
dissolution of anarchy ; but immediately a voice was heard to 
say : — 

♦* It is not enough that we have freed ourselves from tyrants 
and parasites ; we must prevent their return. We are men, and 
experience has abundantly taught us that every one is fond of 
power, and wishes to enjoy at the expense of others. Tt is 
necessary, then, to guard against a propensity which is the 
source of discord ; we must establish certain rules of duty and , 
of right. But the knowledge of our rights, and the estimation 
of our duties, are so abstract and difficult as to require ail the 
time and all the faculties of a man. Occupied in our own af- 
fairs, we have not leisure for these studies ; nor can we exercise 
these functions in our own persons. Let us choose, then, 
among ourselves, such persons as are capable of this employ- 
ment. To them we will delegate our powers to institute our 
government and laws ; they shall be the representatives of our 


wills and of our interests. And in order to attain the fairest 
representation possible of our wills and our interests, let it be 
numerous, and composed of men resembling ourselves." 

Having made the election of a numerous body of delegates* 
the people thus addressed them : — 

** We have hitherto lived in a society formed by chance, with- 
out fixed agreements, without free conventions, without a stipu- 
lation of rights, without reciprocal engagements ; and a multi- 
tude of disorders and evils have arisen from this precarious state* 
We are now determined on forming a regular compact, and we 
have chosen you to adjust the articles: examine, then, with 
care what ought to be its basis and its conditions; consider 
what is the end and the principle of every association ; recog- 
nise the rights which every member brings, the powers which 
he gives up, and those which he reserves to himself: point out 
to us the rules of conduct, and equitable laws; prepare us a 
new system of government, for we feel that the one which has 
hitherto guided us is corrupt. Our fathers have wandered in 
the paths of ignorance, and habit has taught us to stray after 
them ; everything has been done by fraud, violence, and delu- 
sion, and the true laws of morality and reason are still obscure; 
clear up, then, their chaos ; trace out their connexion ; publish 
their code, and we will adopt it." 

And the people raised an immense throne, in form of a pyra- 
mid, and, seating on it the men they had chosen, said to them : 
• We raise you to-day above us, that you may better discover 
the whole of our relations, and be above the reach of our pas- 

*♦ But remember that you are our fellow-citizens ; that the 
power we confer on you is our own ; that we deposite it with 
you, not as a property or an inheritance ; that you must be the 
first to obey the laws you make ; that to-morrow you redescend 
among us, and that you will have acquired no other right but 
that of our esteem and gratitude. And reflect what tribute of 
glory the world, which reveres so many apostles of error, will 
bestow on the first assembly of rational men, who shall have sol- 
emnly proclaimed the immutable principles of justice, and con- 
secrated in the face of tyrants the rights of nations!" 




The men chosen by the people to investigate the true priQ- 
ciples of morals and of reason then proceeded in the «acred 
object of their mission ; and, after a long examination, having 
discovered a fundamental and universal principle, a legislator 
arose and said to the people : — 

** Here is the primordial basis, the physical origin of all jus- 
tice and of all right. 

" Whatever be the active power, the moving cause that gov- 
erns the universe, since it has given to all men the same organs, 
the same sensations, and the same wants, it has thereby declared 
that it has given to all the same right to the use of its treasures, 
and that all men are equal in the order of nature. 

** Secondly, since this power has given to each man the 
necessary means of preserving his own existence, it is evident 
that it has constituted them all independent one of another; that 
it has created them free; that no man is subject to another; that 
each is absolute proprietor of his own person. 

** Equality and liberty are, therefore, two essential attributes 
of man — ^two laws of the Divinity constitutional and unchangea- 
ble, like the physical properties of matter. 

" Now, every individual being absolute master of his own 
person, it follows that a full and free consent is a condition in- 
dispensable to all contracts and all engagements. 

** Again, since each individual is equal to another, it follows 
that the balance of what is received, and of what is given, should 
be strictly in equilibrium ; so that the idea of liberty necessarily 
imports that of justice, the daughter of equality.* 

• The words themselves retrace this connexion j for aquUibriumf aqvi- 
ta$, tequtUitas^ are all of the same ikmily^ and the physical idea of equal- 
ity in the scales of a balance is the archetype of all these abstract ideas. 
Liberty itself, when rightly analyzed, is only justice ; for, If a man, be- 
cause he calls himself free, attacks another, the latter, by the same right 
of liberty, can and ought to repel him ; the right of one is equal to the 
right of the other ; force may suspend this equilibrium, but it becomes 

THE BUZN8. 81 

** Equality and liberty are therefore the physical and naalterw 
able basis of every union of men in society, and consequendy 
the necessary and generating principle of every law and of eveiy 
system of regular government. 

*' A disregard of this basis has introduced in your nation, and 
in every other, those disorders which have finally roused yon« 
It is by returning to this rule that you may reform them, and 
reorganize a happy order of society. 

** But observe, this reorganization will occasion a violent com- 
motion in your habits, your fortunes, and your prejudices. Vi- 
cious contracts and abusive claims must be dissolved ; unjust 
distinctions, and ill-founded property, renounced ; indeed, you 
must recur for a moment to a state of nature. Consider whether 
you can consent to so many sacrifices." 

Then, reflecting on the cupidity inherent in the heart of man, 
I thought that this people would rebounce all ideas of ameliora- 

But, in a moment, a great number of generous men of the 
highest rank, advancing toward the pyramid, made a solemn ab- 
juration of all their distinctions and all their riches. ** Establish 
for us," said they, " the laws of equality and liberty ; we will 
henceforth possess nothing but on the sacred title of justice 

** Equality, justice, liberty, these shall be our code and our 

And then the people immediately raised a great standard, in- 
scribed with these three words, in three different colors. They 
displayed it over the pyramid of the legislator, and for the first 
time the flag of universal justice floated on the face of the 
earth ; and the people raised before the pyramid a dew altar, on 
which they placed golden scales, a sword, and a book with this 
inscription : 

" To equal Law, which judges and protects.''^ 

And having surrounded the pyramid and the altar with a vast 
amphitheatre, all the nation took their seats to hear the publica- 
tion of the law. And millions of men, raising at once their 
hands to heaven, took the solemn oath to live free and just ; to 

injustice and tyranny in the lowest democrat as well as in the highest 


respect their reciprocal properties aod rights ; to obey the law 
and its ministers regularly constitxited. 

. A spectacle so forceful and sublime, so replete with geoeroiui 
emotions, moved me to tears, and, addressing myself to the Gen- 
ius, ** Let me now live," said I, ««for in future I have eyerytfaing 
to hope." 



But scarcely had the solemn voice of liberty and equality 
resounded through the earth, when a movement of confusion 
and astonishment arose in different nations : on the one hand, 
the people, warmed with desire, but wavering between hope 
and fear^ between the sentiment of right and habit of oppression, 
began to be in motion ; the kings, on the other hand, suddenly 
awakened from the sleep of indolence and despotism, were 
alarmed for the safety of their thrones; while, on all sides, those 
clans of civil and religious tyrants, who deceive kings and op- 
press the people, were seized with rage and consternation ; and 
concerting their perfidious plans, *♦ Wo to us," said they, " if 
this fatal cry of liberty comes to the ears of the multitude! wo 
to us if this pernicious spirit of justice be propagated!" And 
pointing to the floating banner, " Conceive," said they, " what 
a swarm of evils are included in those three words ! If all men 
are equal, where is our exclusive right to honors and to power? 
If all men are to be free, what becomes of our slaves, our vas- 
sals, our property ? If all are equal in the civil state, where is 
our prerogative of birth, of inheritance ? what becomes of no- 
bility ? It they are all equal in the sight of €fod, what need of 
mediators ? where is the priesthood ? Let us hasten, then, to 
destroy a germ so prolific, and so contagious ! We must em- 
ploy all our cunning against this calamity ; we must frighten 
the kings, that they may join our cause. We must divide the 
people by national jealousies, and occupy them with commo- 
tions, wars, and conquests. They must be alarmed at the 
power of this free nation. Let us form a league against the 

THE RiriXS. 83 

comntoa eaeniy, demolish that sacrilegiouft ttauidard, oTertani 
that throne of rebellion, and Bt^e the flame of revohition in its 

And, indeed, the civil and religioas tyrants of nations formed 
a general coalition ; and mnltiplying their followers by force 
and seduction, they marched in hostile array against the free 
nation ; and, surrounding the altar and the pyramid of natural 
law, they exclaimed, ** What is this new and heretical doctrine? 
What this impious altar, this sacrilegious worship ? True be- 
lievers and loyal subjects ! can you suppose that truth is first 
disclosed to you to-day, and that hitherto you have been walk- 
ing in error ? that those rebels, more lucky than you, have the 
sole privilege of wisdom ? And you, misguided nation, per** 
ceive you not that year new leaders are deceiving you, that 
they pervert the principles of your faith, and overturn the reli- 
gion of your fathers ? Ah, tremble ! lest the wrath of Heaven 
should kindle against you^ and hasten by speedy repentance to 
retrieve your error."- 

But, inaccessible to seduction, as well as to fear, the free na- 
tion answered not, and rising univeraally in arms, assumed an 
imposing attitude. 

And the legislator said to the chiefs of nations : ** If while we 
walked with a bandage over our eyes the light guided our steps, 
why, since we are no longer blindfold, should it escape our 
search 1 If guides, who prescribe clear-sightedness to man, 
mblead and deceive him, what can be expected from those who 
profess to keep him in darkness ? 

** Leaders of the people! if you possess the truth, show it to 
us : we will receive it with gratitude ; for we seek it with ar- 
dor, and have a great interest in finding it : we are men, and 
liable to be deceived ; but you are also men, and equally falli- 
ble. Aid us, then, in this labyrinth, where the human race has 
wandered for so many ages ; help us to dissipate the illusion of 
so many prejudices and vicious habits ; amid the shock of so 
many opinions which dispute for our acceptance, assist us in 
discovering the proper and distinctive character of truth. Let 
us terminate this day the long combat of error ; let us establish 
between it and truth a solemn contest, to which we will invite 
the opinions of men of all nations ; let us convoke a genera] as- 
sembly of the nations ; let them be judges in their own cause ; 


and in the debate of ail iystems, let no champion, no argument, 
be wanting, either on the eide of prejudice or of reason ; and let 
the sentiment of a general and common mass of evidence give 
birth to a universal concord of opinion* and of hearts." 



Thus spoke the legislator ; and the multitude, seized with 
those emotions which a reasonable proposition always inspires, 
expressed its applause, while the tjrrants, left without support, 
were overwhelmed with confusion. 

A scene of a new and astonishing nature then opened to my 
view : all the people and nations inhabiting the globe, men of 
every race and of every region, converging from their various 
climates, seemed to assemble in one allotted place; where, 
forming an immense congress, distinguished in groups by the 
vast variety of their dresses, features, and complexion, the 
numberless multitude presented a most unusual and affecting 

On one side I saw the European, with his short close coar, 
pointed triangular hat, smooth chin, and powdered hair ; on the 
other side the Asiatic, with a flowing robe, long beard, shaved 
head, and round turban. Here stood the nations of Africa, with 
their ebony skins, their woolly hair, their body girt with white 
and blue tissues of bark, adorned with bracelets and necklaces of 
coral, shells, and glass : there the tribes of the north, enveloped 
in their leathern bags ; the Laplander, with his pointed bonnet 
and his snow-shoes ; the Samoyede, with his feverish body and 
strong odor ; the Tongouse, with his homed cap, and carrying 
his idols pendent from his neck ; the Yakoute, with his freckled 
face ; the Kalmuc, with his flat nose and little retorted eyes. 
Farther distant were the Chinese, attired in silk, with their hair 
hanging in tresses ; the Japanese, of nhngled race ; the Malays, 
with wide-spreading ears, rings in their noses, and broad hats 
of the palm-Jeaf ; and the tattooed races of the isles of the ocean 

THB RiriNS. 85 

and of the coDtmeBt of the antipodes. The Tiew of to many 
varieties of the same species, of so many extravagant inventloBS 
of the same understanding, and of so many modifications of the 
same organisation, affected me with a thousand feelings and a 
thousand thoughts. I contemplated with astonishment this 
gradation of color, which, passing from a bright carnation to a 
Hght brown, a* deeper brown, smutty, bronze, olive, leaden, 
coffer, ends in the black of ebony and jet. And finding th% 
Kachemirian, with his rosy cheek, next to the sun-burnt Hin- 
doo, and the Georgian by the side of the Tartar, I reflected on 
the effects of climate hot or cold, of soil high or low, numhy 
or dry, open or shaded. I compared the dwarf of the pole with 
the giant of the temperate zones ; the slender body of the Arab 
with the clumsy Hollander ; the squat stunted figure of the 
Samoyede with the elegant form of the Ghreek and the Sdavo- 
nian ; the greasy black wool of the Negro with the bright silken 
locks of the Dane ; the broad face of the Kalmuc, his little an- 
gular eyes and flattened nose, with the oval prominent visage, 
large blue eyes and Aquiline' nose, of the Circassian and the 
Abnzan. I contrasted the brilliant calicoes of the Indian, the 
well-wrought stuffs of the European, the rich furs of the Sibe- 
rian, with the tissues of bark, of osiers, leaves, and feathers, of 
savage nations ; and the blue figures of serpents, flowers, and 
stars, with which they painted their bodies. Sometimes the 
variegated appearance of this multitude reminded me of the 
enamelled meadows of the ^^ile and of the Euphrates, when, 
after rains or inundations, millions of flowers are rising on every 
side; sometimes their murmurs and their motions called to 
mind the numberless swarms of locusts which, issuing from the 
desert, cover in spring the plains of Hauran. 

At the sight of so many rational beings, considering on the 
one hand the immensity of ideas and sensations assenibled m 
this place, and, on the other hand, reflecting on the opposition 
of so many opinions, and the shock of so many passions of men 
so capricious, I struggled between astonishment, admiration, 
and secret dread — ^when the legislator commanded silence, and 
attracted all my attention. 

'* Inhabitants of earth ! a free and powerful nation addresses 
you the words of justice and of peace, and offers you the sure 
pledges of her intentions in her own convictktn and experience. 


86 THS Runrs. 

Long afflieted with tbe same ertls as yourselves, we sought for 
their source, and found them all derived from violence and in* 
justice, erected into law by the inexperience of past ages, and 
maintained by the prejudices of the present ; then abolbhing 
our artificial and arbitrary institutions, and recurring to the origin 
of all right and all reasoDi we have found that there existed in 
the very order of nature, and in the physical constitutio|^ of man, 
eternal and immutable laws, which only waited his observance 
to render him happy. O men 1 cast your eyes on the heavens 
that give you light, and on the earth that gives you bread I 
Since they offer the same bounties to you all, since from the 
power that gives them motion you have all received the same 
life, the same organs, have you not all received the same right 
to enjoy its benefits ? Has it not hereby declared you all equal 
and free ? What mortal shall dare refuse to his fellow that 
which nature gives him ? O nations ! let us banish all tyranny 
and all discord ; let us form but one Society, one great family ; 
and, since human nature has but one constitution, let there ex- 
ist in future but one law, that of nature — but one code, that of 
reason — but one throne, that of justice — but one altar, that of 

He ceased ; and an immense acclamation resounded to the 
skies : ten thousand benedictions announced the transports of 
the multitude, and they made the earth re-echo justice, equal- 
ity, and union. But difl%rent emotions soon succeeded ; soon 
the doctors and the chiefs of nations, exciting a spirit of dispute, 
there was heard a sullen murmur, which growing louder, and 
spreading from group to group, became a vast disorder ; and 
each nation, setting tip exclusive pretensions, claimed a prefer^ 
ence for its own code and opinion. 

** You are in error," said the parties, pointing one to the 
other ; '* we alone are in possession of reason and truth. We 
alone have the true law, the real rule of right and justice, the 
only means of happiness and perfection : all other men are 
either blind or rebellious." And great agitation prevailed. 

But the legislator, having ordered silence : " People," said 
he, " what is that passionate emotion ? Whither will that 
quarrel conduct you ? What can you expect from this dissen- 
sion ? The earth has been for ages a field of disputation, and 
you have shed torrents of blood for chimerical opinions : What 

THB RUIN6. 87 

have you gaioed by ao many battles and tean ? When the 
strong has subjected the weak, to his opinion, has he thereby 
aided the cause of truth ? O nations ! take counsel of your 
own wisdom ! When among yourselves disputes arise between 
families and individuals, how do you reconcile them 1 Do you 
not give them arbitrators 1" — ** Yes/' cried the whole multi- 
tude. — '* Do so, then, to the authors of your preaent dissensions. 
Order those who call themselves your instructors, and who force 
tbeir creeds upon you, to discuss before you their reasons. 
Since they appeal to your interests, inform yourselves how they 
support them. — ^And you, chiefs and doctors pf the people, be- 
fore dragging them into the quarrels of your opinions, let the 
reasons for and against them be discussed. Let us estabUsh 
one solemn controversy, one public scrutiny of truth — not be- 
fore the tribunal of a corruptible individual, or a prejudiced 
party, but in the forum of mankind, presided by all their infor- 
mation and all their interests. Let the natural sense of the 
whole human race be ojir arbiter and judge.'* 



The people expressed their applause, and the legislator said : 
** To proceed with order, and avoid all confusion, ]et a spacious 
semicircle be left vacant in front of the altar of peace and union ; 
let each system of religion, and each particular sect, erect its 
proper distinctive standard on the line of this semicircle ; let its 
chiefs and doctors place themselves around the standard, and 
their followers form a column behind them.*' - 

The semicircle being traced, and the order published, there 
instantly rose an innumerable multitude of standards, of all col- 
ors and of every form, like what we see in a great commercial 
port, when, on a day of rejoicing, a thousand different flags and 
streamers are floating from a forest of masts. At sight of this 
prodigious diversity, turning toward the Genius — ** I thought," 
said I, ** that the earth was divided only into eight or ten sys- 


tems of faith, and I then despftired of a recofldliatkHi : now tba 
I behold thousands of different seets, how can I hope for con- 
cord?" — ^**But these,*' replied the Genius, **tu'e not all ■; and 
yet they will be intolerant !*' 

Then, as the groups adfanced to take their stations, he point- 
ed out to me their distinctive marks, and thus began to explain 
their characters :— 

*«That first group," said he, <*with a green banner, bearing a 
eresoent, a bandage, and a sabre, are the followers of the Ara- 
bian prophet. To say there is a God (without knowing what 
he is) ; to belieTC the words of a man (without understanding 
his language) ; to go into the desert to pray to God (who is 
everywhere) ; to wash the hands with waW (and not abstain 
from blood) ; to fast all day (and eat all night) ; to give alms of 
their own goods (and to plunder those of others) : such are the 
means of perfection instituted by Mahomet — such are the sym- 
bols of his followers. Whoever does not adopt them is a rep- 
robate, stricken with anathema, and devoted to the sword. A 
merciful God, the author of life, has instituted these laws of 
oppression and murder : he made them for all the world, but 
has revealed them only to one man ; he established them from 
all eternity, though he made them known but yesterday; they 
are abundantly sufficient for all purposes, and yet a volume is 
added to them : this volume was to diffuse light, to exhibit evi- 
dence, to lead men to. perfection and happiness, and yet every 
page was so full of obscurities, ambiguities, and contradictions, 
that commentaries and explanations became necessary, even in 
the lifetime of its apostles; and its interpreters, differing in 
opinion, divided into opposite and hostile sects. One maintains 
that Ali is the true successor; the other contends for Omar and 
Aboubekre. This denies the eternity of the Koran ; Ihat the 
necessity of ablutions and prayers. The Carmate forbids pil- 
grimages, and allows the use of wine ; the Hakemike preaches 
the transmigration of souls. Thus they make up the number 
of seventy-two sects, whose banners are before you. In this 
contestation, every one attributing the evidence of truth exclu- 
sively to himself, and taxing all others with heresy and rebel- 
lion, turns against them his sanguinary zeal. And their religion, 
which celebrates a mild and merciful God, the common father 
of alKmen, converted to a torch of discord, a signal for war and 


marder, hat net ceased for tw«lf« faandred yean to deluge the 
earth in blood,* aod to ravage and desolate the ancient hemi- 
sphere from oae end to the other. 

** Those men, distinguished by their enormous white turbanSt 
their broad sleeves, and their long rosaries, are the Imams, the 
MoHas, and the Mnflies ; and near them are the dervices, with 
pointed bonnets, and the Santons, with dishevelled hair. Be- 
hold with what vehemence they recite their professions of faith I 
They are now beginning a dispute about the greater and lesser 
impurities; about the matter and the manner of ablutions; 
about the attributes of God and his perfections ; about the chai- 
tan, and the good and wicked angels ; about death, the resur- 
rection, the intemogatoiy in the tomb, the judgment, the passage 
of the 'bridge not broader than a hair, the balance of works, the 
pains of hell, and the joys of paradise. 

** Next to these, that second, more numerous group, with 
white banners intersected with crosses, are the followers of Je- 
sus. Acknowledging the same God with the Mussulmans, found- 
ing their belief on the same books, admitting, like them, a first 
man who damned the human race by eating an apple, they hold 
them, however, in a holy abhorrence, and out of pure piety they 
call each other impious blasphemers. The great point of their 
dissension consists in this, that, after admitting a God one and 
indivisible, the Christian divides him into three persons, each 
of which he believes to be a complete and entire God, without 
ceasing to constitute an identical whole, by the indivisibility of 
the three. And he adds, that this being, who fills the universe, 
has dwindled into the body of a man, and has assumed material, 
perishable, and limited organs, without ceasing to be immaterial, 
infinite, and eternal. The Mussulman, who does not compre- 
hend these mysteries, rejects them as follies, and the visions of 
a distempered brain, though he conceives perfectly well the 
eternity of the Koran and the mission of the prophet ; hence 
then' implacable hatreds. 

* Read the history of Islamism by its own writers, and you wi^} be ' 
convinced that ^e of the principal causes of the wars which have deso* 
lated Asia and Africa since the days of Mahomet, has been the apos- 
tolical fanaticism of its doctrine. Cesar has been supposed to have 
destroyed three millions of men ; it would be interesting to make a 
similar calculation respeeting every founder of a religious system 

90 THs Rtnm. 

** Again, the Cbria^iw, dif*kM amang tbemselTes on many 
points, have fonneci parties not less yiolent than the Mussalraans ; 
and their quarrels are so mueh the more obstinate, as the ob* 
jects of them are inaecessible to the senses, and incapable of 
demonstration : their opinions, thereforCt have no other basis 
but the will and caprice of the parties. Thus, while they agree 
that God is a being incomprehensible and unknown, they dis- 
pute, nevertheless, about his essence, his mode of acting, and 
his attributes : while they agree that his pretended transforma- 
tion into a man is an enigma above the human understanding, 
they dispute on the junction or distinction of his two wills and 
bis two natures, on his change of substance, on the real or ficti- 
tious presence, on the mode of incarnation, etc., etc. 

*' Hence those innumerable sects, of which two or three him* 
dred have already perished, and three or four hundred others, 
.which still subsist, display those numberless banners which here 
distract your sight. The first in order, surrounded by a grsfttp 
in various fantastic dress— that confused mixture of violet, red, 
white, black, and speckled garments — with heads shaved, with 
tonsures, or with short hair — ^with red hats, square bonnets, 
pointed mitres, or long beards — is the standard of the Roman 
pontiff, who, uniting the civil government to the priesthood, has 
erected the supremacy of his city into a point of religion, and 
made of his pride an article of faith. 

** On his right you see the Greek pontiff, who, proud of the 
rivalship of his metropolis, sets up equal pretensioss, and sup- 
ports them against the Western church by the priority of that 
of the East. On the left are the standards of two recent chiefs,* 
who, shaking off a yoke that had become tyrannical, have raised 
altar against altar in their reform, and wrested half of Europe 
from the popfe. Behind these are the subaltern sects, subdivided 
from the principal divisions, the Nestorians, the Eutycheans, 
the Jacobites, the Iconoclasts, the Anabaptists, the Presbyteri- 
ans, the Wicliffites, the Osiandrians, the Manicheans, the Pie- 
tists, the Adamites, the Contemplatives, the Quakers, the Weep- 
ers^Hd a hundred others,f all of distinct parties, persecuting 
when strong, tolerant when weak, hating each* other in the 

* Luther and Calvin. 

t Consult, upon this subject, Dictlonnaire des Heresies par Pabbe Pto. 
quet, who has omitted a gfsat nimber, in 2 vote, octavo. 


name of a God of peace, forming eaeh an eiclnsiFe luaven ki a 
religion of nnivenal chanty, dooming eaeh other to pains with- 
oQt eod io a future state, and realinng in this worid the imagi* 
nary hell of the other." 

After this group, observing a solitary ttandard of the color of 
hyacinth, round which were assembled men oi all the different 
droMes of Europe and Asia, ** At least," said I to the Genius, 
**inre shall find unanimity here.*' 

** Yes," said he, ** at first sight, and by a momentary accident: 
do you not know that system of worship ?" 

Then, perceiviog in Hebrew letters the monogram of the 
name of God, aod the palms which the rabbins held in their 
hands, ** True," said I, *^ these are the children of Moses, dis~ 
peined even to this day, abhorring every nation, and abhorred 
and persecuted by all." 

*« Yes," he replied, '* and for this reason, that, having neither 
time nor liberty to dispute, they have the appearance of una* 
niniity ; but no soouer will they come together, compare their 
principles, and reason on their opinions, than they will separate, 
as formerly, at least into two principal sects ;* one of which, 
taking advantage of the silence of their legislator, and adhering 
to the literal sense of his books, will deny everything that is not 
clearly expressed therein, and on this principle will reject, as 
inventions of the circumcised, the immortality of the soul, its 
transmigration to places of pain or pleasure, its resurrection, 
the final judgment, the good and bad angels, the revolt of the 
evil Genius, and all the poetical system of a world to come : 
and this highly-favored people, whose perfection consists in cut- 
ting oif a little piece of skin — this atom of a people, which forms 
but a wave in the ocean of mankind, and which insists that God 
has made nothing but for them — will by its schism reduce to 
one half its present tnfiing weight in the scale of the universe." 

He then showed me a neighboring group, composed of men 
dressed in white robes, wearing a veil over their mouths, and 
ranged around a banner of the color of the morning sky, on 
which was painted a globe cut into two hemispheres, black and 
white : »' The same thing will happen," said he, " to these 
children of Zoroaster, the obscure remnants of a people once 
so powerful; at present, persecuted, like the Jews, and dis» 
• The Saddttcses and the Phailsees. 

93 THE RITXIffl. 

peeved among other natioiit« iktej receive without disciunoii 
the precepts of the repreieatatiye of their prophet ; but, as soon 
as the mobed and the destpurs shall assemble, they will renew 
the controversy about the good and the bad principle ; on the 
combats of Ormuzd, god of light, and Ahriroanes, god of dark- 
ness ; on the direct and allegorical sense ; on the good and evil 
genii ; on the worship of fire and the elements ; on impurities 
and ablutions ; on the resurrection of tlie soul and body, or onljr 
of the soul ; on the renovation of the present world, and oa 
that which is to take its place. And the Parses will divide into 
sects,* so much the more numerous, as during their dispersion 
their families will have contracted the manners and opinions of 
foreign nations. 

** Next to these, remark those banners of an azure ground, 
painted with monstrous figures of human bodies, double, triple, 
quadruple, with heads of lions, boars, and elephants, with tails 
of fishes, tortoises, etc. ; tliese are the ensigns of the sects of 
India, who find their gods in various animals, and the souls of 
their fathers in reptiles and insects. These men endow hospi* 
tals for hawks, serpents, and rats ; and they abhor their feHow*<^ 
creatures ! They purify themselves with the dung and urine 
of cows, and think themselves defiled by the touch of a man I 
They wear a net over the mouth, for fear of swallowing, in a 
fiy, a soul in a state of penance, and they can see a paria perish 
with hunger! They acknowledge the same gods, but they 
separate into hostile bands. 

*' The first standard, retired from the rest, bearing a figure 
with four heads, is that of Brahma, who, though the creator of 
the universe, is without temples or followers ; but, reduced to 
serve as a pedestalf to the Lin gam, he contents himself with a 
little water, which the brahmin throws every morning on his 
shoulder, reciting an idle canticle in his praise. 

*^ The second, bearing a kite with a scarlet body and a white 

* IJieiollowers of Zoroaster, called Parses, because they are descended 
from the Persians, are better luiown in Asia by the opprobrious name of 
tiaures or Guebres, which means infidels : they are in Asia what the Jews 
are in Europe. The name of their pope or high priest is mobed. See, 
respecting the rites of this religion, Henry Lord, Hyde, and the Zend- 

t See Sonnerat, YoTiice anx Indes vol. i. 

THB Runrs* 93 

headt is that of Vichenon, wfao, though presenrer of the world, 
has passed part of his life in wicked aetioos. Yon sometimes 
see him under the hideous form of a boar or a lion tearing 
human entrails, or under that of a honw shortty to come armed 
with a sabre to destroy all that has life, to extinguish the stars, 
annihilate the planets, shake the earth, and force the great ser* 
pent to vomit a fire which shall consume the spheres. 

** The third is that of ChiTen, god of desolation and destruc- 
tion, who has, however, for his emblem the symbol of genera- 
tion : he is the wickedest of the three, and he has the roost 
followers. These men, proud of his character, express in their 
devotions to him their contempt for the other gods,* his equals 
and brothem; and, in imitation of his inconsistencies, while 
they profess great modesty and chastity, they publicly crown 
with flowerS) and sprinkle with milk and honey, the obscene 
image of the Lingam. 

** In the rear of these approach the smaller standards of a mul- 
titude of gods, male^ female, and hermaphrodite; these are 
friends and relations of the three principal gods, and have passed 
their lives in wars among themselves ; and their followers imi- 
tate them. These gods have need of nothing, and they are 
coDStandy receiving presents ; they are omnipotent and omni- 
present, and a brahmin by muttering a few words shuts them 
up in an idol, or a pitcher, to sell their favors for his own 

** Beyond these, that cloud of standards, which, on a yellow 
ground, common to them all, bear various emblems, are those 
of the same god, who reigns under different names in the nations 
of the East. The Chinese adores him in Fot,f the Japanese in 

* When a sectary of Chiven hears the name ef Vichenoa proDoimced| 
he stops his ears, nms away, and purifies himself. 

t The Chinese language having neither b nor d, that people prononnces 
Fot what the Indians and Persians call Bodd, or Boudd (with short ou). 
Fot, in Pegu, changes into Fota and Fta, etc. It is only within* a few 
years that we begin to have exact notions of the doctrine of Boudd and 
of his various sectaries ; and we are indebted for them to the learned men 
of England, who, accordiog as their nation subdues the people of India, 
study their religions and manners in order to make them known. The 
work entitled Asiatic Researches is a precious collection of the kind : we 
find in volume vi., page 163, in volume rii., page 32 and page 389, three 
instructive memoirs coneeniDg the Bouddists of Ceylon^ and of Birroah, 


Budso, the inhabitant of Ceylon in Bedhou and Boudab, of 
Laos in Chekia, the Pegnan in Phta, the Siamese in Sonunona- 
Kodom, the Tibetan in Boudd and in La; agreeing in sobm 
points of his history, they all celebrate his life of penitence, his 
mortifications, his fastings, his functions of mediator and expia- 
tor, the enmity between him and another god, his adrersaiy, 
their battles, and his ascendency. But as they disagree on the 
means of pleasing him, they dispute about rites and ceremonies, 
and about the dogmas of interior doctrine and of public doctrine. 
That Japanese bonze, with a yellow robe, and naked head, 
preaches the eternity of souls, and their successive transmigra- 
tions into various bodies; near him, the Sintoist denies that 
souls can exist separate from the senses,* and maintains that 
they are only the effect of the organs to which they belong, 
and with which they must perish, as the sound with the musi- 
cal instrument. Near him, the Siamese, with his eyebrows 
shaved, and a talipat screen in his haDd,f recommends alms, 
offerings, and expiations, and yet believes in blind necessity and 
inexorable fate. The Chinese hochang sacrifices to the souls 
of his ancestors ; and next him, the follower of Confuciust in- 
terrogates his destiny in the cast of dice and the movement of 
the stars. That child, surrounded by a swarm of priests in yel- 
low robes and hats, is the grand lama,|| in whom the god of 

or Ava. An anonymous writer, but who appears to have meditated this 
subject y has published in the Asiatic Journal of 1816, month of January, 
and following, until May, letters which promise further details of the 
highest interest. We shall resume this subject in a note to chapter xxi. 

* See, in Kempfer, the doctrine of the Sintoists, which is a mixture of 
that of Epicurus and the Stoics. 

t It is a leaf of the latanier species of the palm-tree ; hence the Bonzes 
of Siam tnke the apellation of Talapoin. The use of this screen is an 
exclusive privilege. 

t The sectaries of Ck>nfucios are no less addicted to astrology than the 
Bonzes. It is, indeed, the moral malady of every eastern nation. 

II Is the same person whom we find mentioned in our old books of 
travels by the name of Prester-John, from a corruption of the Persian 
word djehan, which signifies the world. Thus the priest World and the 
god World are intimately connected. 

In a recent expedition, the English have found certain idols of the La- 
mas filled in the inside with sacred pastels from the close stool of the 
high priest. The faa is attested by Hastings, and Colonel Pollier, who 


Tibet has jtut become incarnate. But a mal has ansen, who 
partakes this benefit with him ; and the Kalmonc on the banks 
of Lake Baikal has a God similar to the inhabitant of Lasa ; 
but they agree, however, in one important point — that god can 
inhabit only a human body ; they both laugh at the stupidity 
of the Indian who pa^Fs homage to cowdung, though they diem- 
selves consecrate the excrements of their high priest." 

After these, a crowd of other banners, which no man could 
number, came forward into sight ; and the Genius exclaimed : 
** I should never finish the detail of all the systems of faith which 
divide these nations. Here the hordes of the Tartars adore, in 
the form of beasts, birds, and insects, the good and evil genii, 
who, under a principal, but indolent god, govern the universe ; 
in their idolatry they call to mind the ancient paganism of the 
west.' You observe the fantastical dress of their chamans, who, 
under a robe of leather hung round with bells and rattles, idols 
of iron, claws of birds, skins of snakes, and heads of owls, are 
agitated by factitious convulsions, and invoke with magical cries 
the dead to deceive the living. There the black tribes of Africa 
exhibit the.same opinions in the worship of their fetiches. See 
the inhabitant of Juidst worship god in a great snake,* which, 
unluckily, the swine delight to eat. The Teleuteanf attires his 
god in ^ coat of several colors, like a Kussian soldier. The 

perished in the troubles of Avignon. It will be very extraordinary to 
observe, that this disgusting ceremony is connected with a profound 
philosophical system, to wit, that of the metempsychosis, admitted by 
the Lamas. When the Tartars swallow the sacred relics of the pontiff 
(which they are accustomed to do), they imitate the laws of the uni- 
verse, the parts of which are incessantly absorbed and pass into the sub- 
stance of each other. It is the serpent devouring his tail ; and this ser- 
pent is fioudd and the world. 

• It frequently happens that the swine devour the very species of ser- 
pents adored by the negroes, and this occasions great desolation in the 
country. President de Brosses has given us in his history of the Fetiches 
a curious collection of absurdities of this nature. 

t The Teleuteans, a Tartar nation, paint God as wearing a vesture of 
all colors, particularly red and green j and, as these constitute the uni- 
form of the Russian dragoons, they compare him to this description of 
soldiers. The Egyptians also dress the god World in a garment of every 
color. Ensebius, Pnsp. Evang., p. 116, book iit« The Teleuteans call God 
Bon, which is only an alteration of Boudd; the god Egg and World. 


Kamchadale,* observiog that everythiog goes wrong in his fro- 
sen clinate, coDsiders him as an old, ill-oatured roan, smokiog 
his pipe, and hunting foxes and martins in his sledge ; but you 
may still behold a hundred savage nations who have none of the 
ideas of civilized people respecting God, the soul, another 
worid, and a future life ; who have formed no system of worship, 
and who, nevertheless, enjoy the gifts of nature in the irreligion 
in which she has created them." 



The various groups having taken their places, ah unbounded 
silence succeeded to the murmurs of the multitude, and the 
legislator said : *^ Chiefs and doctors of mankind ! you remark 
how the nations, living apart, have hit^ierto followed different 
paths, each believing its own to be that of truth. If, however, 
truth is one, and opinions are various, it is evident that some 
are in error. If, then, such vast numbers of us are in the wrong, 
who shall dare to say, * I am in the right V Begin, therefore, 
by being indulgent in your dissensions. Let us all seek truth 
as if no one possessed it. The opinions which to this day have 
governed the world, originating from chance, propagated in .ob- 
scurity, admitted without discussion, accredited by a love of 
novelty and imitation, have usurped their empire in a clandes- 
tine manner. It is time, if they are well founded, to give a 
solemn stamp to their certainty, and legitimate their existence. 
Let us summon them this day to a general scrutiny, let each 
propound his creed, let the whole assembly be the judge, and 
let that alone be acknowledged true which is so for the whole 
human race.'* 

Then, by order of position, the first standard on the left was 
allowed to speak : ** You are not permitted to doubt,*' said their 

% Consult upon tbis subject a work entitled, Description des peuples sou- 
mis it la Russie, and it will be found that the picture is not oTercharged- 

THE BVmS, 97 

chiefs, **tfaat our doctrine is the only trae and infallible one. 
First, it is revealed by God himself.** 

** So b ours,** cried all the other standards, **and yon are not 
permitted to doubt it.*' 

•• But, at least,** said the legislator, " you must prove it ; for 
we can not believe what we do not know.** 

** Our doctrine is proved,'* replied the first standard, " by nu- 
merous facts : by a multitude of miracles, by resurrections of 
the dead, by rivers dried up, by mountains removed,*' etc. 

" And we, also," cried all the others, ** we have numberless 
miracles;" and each begfan to recount the most incredible 

" Their miracles," said the first standard, •* are imaginaiy, or 
the fictions of the evil spirit, who has deluded them.** 

'•They are yours,** said the others, ''that are imaginary;" 
and each group, speaking of itself, cried out : '• None but ours 
are true ; all the others are false." 

The legislator asked : " Have you living witnesses ?*' 

*' No," replied they all ; '* the facts are ancient, the witnesses 
arc dead, but their writings remain." 

•'Be it so," replied the legislator ; ** but if they contradict 
each other, who shall reconcile them ?'* 

•* Just judge !'* cried one of the standards, "the proof that 
our witnesses have seen the truth is, that they died to confirm 
it, and our faith is sealed with the blood of martyrs.** 

"And ours too," said the other standards ; "we have thou- 
sands of martyrs who died in the most excruciating torments, 
without ever denying the truth.'* Then the Christians of every 
sect, the Mussulmans, the Indians, the Japanese, recited endless 
legends of confessors, martyrs, penitents, etc. 

And one of these parties having denied the martyrology of 
the others—" Well,** said they, "we will then die ourselves to 
prove the truth of our belief.*' 

And instantly a crowd of men, of every religion and of every 
sect, presented themselves to suflfer the torments of death. 
Many even began to tear their arms, and to beat their heads and 
breasts, without discovering any symptom of pain. 

But the legislator, preventing them — ** O men !'* said he, 
^ hear my words with patience : if you die to prove that two 



and two make four, will your death reader this truth more evi- 
dent ?" 

" No," answered all. 

*' And if you die to prove that they make five, will that make 
them ^veV* 

Again they all answered, " No." 

** What, then, is your persuasion to prove, if it changes not 
the existence of things ? Truth is one — ^yoiir persuasions are 
various ; many of yo);i, therefore, are in error. Now, if man, 
as is evident, can persuade himself of error, what does his per- 
suasion prove ? ' 

** If error has its martyrs, what is the criterion of truth ? 

** If the evil spirit works miracles, what is the distinctive char- 
acter of God? 

^* Besides, why resort for ever to incomplete and insufficient 
miracles ? Instead of changing the course of nature, why not 
rather change opinions ? Why murder and terrify men, instead 
of instructing and correcting them ? 

** O credulous, but opiniated mortals ! none of us know what 
was done yesterday, what is even doing to-day under our eyes, 
and we swear to what was done two thousand years ago ! 

" Oh, the weakness, and yet the pride of men ! The law* 
of nature are immutable and profound, our minds are full ot 
illusion and frivolity, and yet we ^ould comprehend everything, 
determine eveiything ! Verily, it is easier for the whole hu- 
man race to be in an error, than to change the nature of an 

" Well, then," said one of the doctors, " let us lay aside th» • 
evidence of fact, since it is uncertain ; let us come to argument 
the proofs inherent in the doctrine." 

Then came forward, with a look of confidence, an Imam oi 
the law of Mahomet ; and, having advanced into the circle 
turned toward Mecca, and recited with great fervor his confes 
sion of faith : ** Praised be God," said he, with a solemn an* 
imposing voice ; " the light shineth with full evidence, and truth 
has no need of examination." Then showing the Koran— 
** Here," said he, " is the light of truth in its proper essepce. 
There is no doubt in this book ; it conducts with safety iMra 
who walks in darkness, and who receives without discussion the 
divine word which descended on the prophet to save the simple 

THE RUINS* ' 99 

and confound the wise. God has establislied Mahomet his 
minister on earth ; he* has given him the world, that he m'ay 
subdne with the sword whoever shall refuse to receive his law. 
Infidels dispute, and will not believe* their obduracy comes 
from God, who has hardened* their hearts to deliver them to 
dreadful punishments—."* 

At these words, a violent murmur arose on all sides, and si- 
lenced the speaker. '* Who is this man," cried all the groups, 
** who thus gratuitously insults us ? What right has he to im- 
pose his creed on us as conqueror and tyrant ? Has not God 
endowed us, as well as him, with eyes, understanding, and rea- 
son ? And have we not an equal right to use them, in choosing 
what to believe and what to reject ? Tf he attacks us, shall we 
not defend ourselves 1 If he likes to believe without examina- 
tion, must we therefore not examine before we believe ? 

*'And what is this luminous doctrine that fears the light ? 
What is this apostle of a God of clemency, who preaches noth- 
ing but murder and carnage ? What is this God of justice, 
who punishes blindness which he himself has made ? If vio- 
lence and persecution are the arguments of truth, must gentle- 
ness and charity be looked on as signs of falsehood V* 

A man then advancing from a neighboring group, said to the 
Imam: *' Admitting that Mahomet is the apostle of the best 
doctrine, the prophet of the true religion, have the goodness 
at least to tell us, in the practice of his doctrine, whether we 
are to follow his son-in-law Ali, or his vicars Omar and Abou- 
bekre ?"t 

At the sound of these names, a terrible schism arose among 
the Mussulmans themselves : Ihe partisans of Omar and of Ali, 
calling out heretics and blasphemers, loaded each other with 
execrations. The quarrel became so violent that the neighbor- 
ing groups were obliged to interfere to prevent their coming to 

At length, tranquillity being somewhat restored, the legislator 
said to the Imams : " See the consequences of your principles ! 
If you yourselves were to carry them into practice, you would 

* ThlB passage contains the sense, and nearly the very words, of the 
first chapter of the Koran, 

** t These are the two grand parties into which the Mussulmans are di* 
vided. The Turks have embraced the second, the Persians the first. 


100 TI}9 RUINS. 

destroy each other to the last man. Is k not the first law of 
God that man should Jive ly Then addressing himself to the 
other groups : '* Doubtless," said he, ** this intolerant and ex- 
clusive spirit shocks every idea of justice, and overturns the 
whole foundation of morals an4 society ; but before we totally 
reject this code of doctrine, is it hot proper to hear some of its 
dogmas, in order not to pronounce on the forms, without having 
some knowledge of the substance V* 

The groups having consented, the Imam began to expound 
how God, afler having sent to the nations, lost in idolatry, twen- 
ty-four thousand prophets, had finally sent the last, the seal and 
perfection of all, Mahomet, on whom be the salvation of peace; 
how, to prevent the divine word from being any longer perverti^ 
by infidels, the supreme bounty had itself written the pag€»^^ 
the Koran. Then explaining the particular dogmas of Isl9^Q|- : 
ism, the Imam unfolded how the Koran, partaking of the divine 
nature, was increate and eternal, like its author : how it had 
been sent leaf by leaf in twenty-four thousand nocturnal appari- 
tions of the angel Gabriel : how the angel announced himself 
by a gentle knocking, which threw the prophet into a cokl 
sweat : how, in the vision of one night, he had travelled over 
ninety heavens, riding on the animal boraq — half a horse and 
half a woman : how, endowed with the gift of miracles, he 
walked in the sunshine without a shadow, turned dry trees to 
green, filled wells and cisterns with water, and split in two the 
body of the moon : how, by divine command, Mahomet had 
propagated, sword in hand, the religion^ the most worthy of God 
by its sublimity, and the best adapted for man by the simplicity 
of its practice, since it consisted in only eight or ten points : to 
profess the unity of God ; to acknowledge Mahomet as his only 
prophet ; to pray five times a day ; to fast one month in the 
year ; to go to Mecca once in our life ; to pay the tenth of all 
we possess ; to drink no wine ; to eat no pork ; and to make 
war upon the infidels. He taught that by these means eveiy 
Mussulman, becoming himself an ajsostle and a martyr, should 
enjoy in this world many blessings, and at his death his soul, 
weighed in the balance of works, and absolved by the two black 
angels, should pass the infernal pit on the bridge as narrow as a 
hair and as sharp as the edge of a sword, and should finally be 
received to a region of delight, watered with rivers of milk and 


honey, and embalmed in all the perfumes of India and Arabia; 
and where the celestial houris, yirgins always chaste, are eter- 
nally crowning with repeated favors the elect of God, who pre- 
serve an eternal youth. 

At these words, an involuntary smile was seen on every coun- 
tenance ; and the various groups, reasoning on these articles of 
faith, exclaimed with one voice : " Is it possible that reasonable 
beings can admit such reveries ? Would not you think it a 
chapter from the Arabian Nights ?" 

A Samoyede advanced into the circle : *' The paradise of 
Mahomet,** said he, ** appears very desirable ; but one of the 
means of gaining it is embarrassing : for if we must neither 
eat nor drink between the rising and setting sun, as he has or- 
dered, how are we to practise that fast in my country, whert 
the sun continues above the horizon four months without set- 
ling ?'» 

** That is impossible,** cried all the Mussulman doctors, to 
support the honor of the prophet ; but a hundred nations hav- 
ing attested the fact, the iofallibility of Mahomet could not but 
receive a severe shock. 

'* It is singular,*' said an European, ** that God should be con- 
stantly revealing what takes place in heaven, without ever in- 
structing us what is doing on the earth !'* 

** For my part,** said an American, ** I find a great difficulty 
in the pilgrimage ; for suppose twenty-five years to a genera- 
tion, and only a hundred millions of males on the globe — eacif 
being obliged to go to Mecca once in his life^there must be 
four millions a year on the journey ; and as it would be imprac- 
ticable for them to return the same year, the numbers would be 
doubled — that is, eight millions : where would you find pro- 
visions, lodging, water, vessels, for this universal procession 7 
Here must be miracles indeed I" 

** The proof,*' said a catholic doctor, ** that the religion of 
Mahomet is not revealed, is, that the greater part of the ideas 
which serve for its basis existed a long time before, and that it 
is only a confused mixture of truths disfigured and taken from 
our holy religion and from that of the Jews ; which an ambi- 
tious man has made to serve his projects of domination and his 
worldly views. Peruse his book, you will see nothing there but 
the histories of the Bible and the gospel travestied into absurd 



fablea-*a tissue of vague and contradiccojy declamations, and 
ridiculous or daqgerous precepts. Analyze the spirit of these 
precepts, and the conduct of their apostle, you will find there 
an artful and audacious character, which, to obtain its end, 
works ably, it is true, on the passions of the people it had to 
govern. Speaking to simple and credulous men, it entertains 
them with miracles ; they are ignorant and jealous, and it flat- 
ters their vanity by despising science ; they are poor and rapa- 
cious, and it excites their cupidity by the hope of pillage ; hav- 
ing nothing at first to give them on earth, it tells them of 
treasures in heaven ; it teaches them to desire death as the 
supreme good ; it threatens cowards with hell ; it rewards the 
brave with paradise ; it sustains the weak with the opinion of 
fatality ; in short, it produces the attachment it wants by all the 
allurements of sense and all the power of the passions. 

** How different is the character of our religion ! and how 
completely does its empire, founded on the counteraction of our 
natural inclinations, and the mortification of all our passions, 
prove its divine origin ! How forcibly does its mild and com- 
passionate morality, its affections altogether spiritual, attest its 
emanation from the divinity ! Many of its doctrines, it is true, 
soar above the reach of the understanding, and impose on rea- 
son a respectful silence ; but this more fully demonstrates its 
revelation, since the human mind could never have imagined 
such mysteries." Then, holding the Bible in one hand and the 
ipiir Gospels in the other, the doctor began to relate, that, in 
the beginning God (after having passed an eternity in inaction) 
look the resolution, without any known cause, of making the 
world out of nothing ; that having created the whole universe 
in six days, he found himself fatigued on the seventh; that 
having placed the first human pair in a garden of delights, to 
make them completely happy, he forbade their tasting a partic- 
ular fruit which he left within their reach ; that these first 
parents, having yielded to the temptation, all their race (yet un- 
born) had been condemned to bear the penalty of a fault which 
they had not committed ; that, after having left the human race 
to damn themselves for lour or five thousand years, this God of 
mercy ordered a dearly beloved son, whom he had^ engendered 
without a mother, and who was as old as himself, to go and be 
put to death on the earth : and this for the salvation of man- 

THE RUINS. 10;> 

kind, of whom much the greater portion, nevertheless, have 
ever since continued in the way of perdition ; that to remedy 
this new difficulty, this same God, born of a virgin, having died 
and risen from the dead, assumes a new existence every day, 
and in the form of a piece of bread, multiplies himself by mil- 
lions at the voice of one of the vilest of men : then passing on 
to the doctrine of the sacraments, he was going to treat at large 
of the power of absolution and reprobation, of the means of 
purging all sins by a little water and a few words, when, utter- 
ing the words indulgence, power of the pope, sufficient or effi • ' 
cacious grace, he was interrupted by a thousand cries : ** It is 
a horrible abuse," exclaimed the Lutherans, " to pretend to re- 
mit sins for money." — " The notion of the real presence," cried 
the Calvinists, " is contrary to the text of the gospel." — ** The 
pope has no right to decide anything of himself," cried the Jan- 
senists ; and thirty other sects rising up and accusing each other 
of heresy and error, it was no longer possible to hear anything 

Silence being at last restored, the Mussulmans observed to 
the legislator : " Since you have rejected bur doctrine as con- 
taining things incredible, can you admit that of the Christians ? 
Is not theirs still more contrary to common §ense and justice t 
— a God, immaterial and infinite, to become a man ! to have a 
son as old as himself! this god-man to become bread — to be 
eaten and digested ! Have we anything equal to that ? Have 
the Christians an exclusive right to exact implicit faith ? And < 
will you grant them privileges of belief to our detriment?" 

Some savage tribes then advanced : " What !" said they, 
*^ because a man and woman ate an apple six thousand years 
ago, all the human race are damned ! and you call God just I 
What tyrant ever rendered children responsible for the faults 
of their fathers ? What man can answer for another's actions ? 
Is not this subversive of every idea of justice and of reason ?" 

Others exclaimed : " Where are the proofs, the witnesses, of 
these pretended facts ? Can we receive them without examin- 
ing the evidence ? The least TSiction in a court of justice re- 
quires two witnesses ; and we are ordered to believe all this on 
mere tradition and hearsay !" 

A Jewish rabbin then addressing the assembly, said : " As to 
the fundamental facts we are sureties ; but with regard to their 


form and application, the case is different, and the Christianii 
are here condemned by their own arguments : for they can not 
deny that we are the original source from which they are de- 
rived — the primitive stock on which they are grafted; and henc« 
the reasoning is very short : either our law is from God, and 
then theirs is a heresy, since it differs from ours, or our law is 
not from God, and then theirs fall at the same time.*' 

** But you must make this distinction," replied the Christian : 
'* your law is from God, as typical and preparative, but not as 
final and absolute ; you are the image of which we are the sub- 

" We know," replied the rabbin, " that such are your preten- 
sions ; but they are absolutely gratuitous and false. Your sys- 
tem turns altogether on mystical* meanings, on visionary and 
allegorical interpretations : with violent distortions on the letter 
of our books, you substitute the most chimerical ideas to the 
true ones,' and find in them whatever pleases you, as a wild im- 
agination will find figures in the clouds. Thus you have madtt 
a spiritual Messiah of that which, in the spirit of our prophets^ 
is only a temporal king ; you have made a redemption of the 
human race out of the simple re-establishment of our nation ; 
your conception of the virgin id founded on a single phrase, which 
you have misunderstood. Thus you make from our Scriptures 
whatever your fancy dictates — jox\ even find there your trinity, 
though there is not the most distant allusion to it, and it is an 
invention of profane writers,, admitted into your system with a 
host of other opinions, of every religion and of every sect, during 
the anarchy of the first three centuries of your era." 

At these words, the Christian doctors, crying sacrilege and 
blasphemy, sprang forward in a transport of fury to fall upon 
the Jew. And a troop of monks, in motley dresses of black 
and white, advanced with a standard, on which were painted 
pincers, gridirons, lighted fagots, and the words justice, chari- 

• When we read the 'Fathers of the church, and see upon what aiyo- 
ments they have built the edifice of religion, we are inexpressibly aston- 
ished with their credulity or their knavery ; bat allegory was the rage of 
that period : the pagans employed it to explain the actions of their gods, 
and the Christians acted la the same spirit when they employed it in an- 
other manner. It would be interesting to publish now such books, or only 
extracts from them. 


ty, mercy ; " we must," said they, " make an example of these 
impious wretches, and burn them for the glory of God." They 
began even to prepare the pile, when a Mussulman answered in 
a strain of irony : — 

" This, then, is your religion of peace, that meek and benefi- 
cent system which you so much extol ! This is that evangeli- 
cal charity which combats infidelity with persuasive mildness, 
and repays injuries with patience ! Ye hypocrites ! it is thus 
that you deceive mankind, thus that you propagate your ac- 
cursed errors I When you were weak, you preached liberty, 
toleration, peace ; when you are strong, you practise persecu- 
tion and violence — " 

And he was going to begin the history of the wars and slaugh- 
ters of Christianity, when the legislator, demanding silence, sus- 
pended this scene of discord. 

The monks, aifecting a tone of meekness and humility, ex- 
claimed, " It is not ourselves that we avenge, it is the cause of 
God, it is his glory that we defend." 

•* And what right have you, more than we," said the Imams, 
" to constitute yourselves the representatives of God ? Have 
you privileges that we have not ? Are you not men like us ?" 

" To defend God," said anothej: group, " to pretend to avenge 
him, is to insult his wisdom and his power. Does he not know 
better than men what befits his dignity ?" 

" Yes," replied the monks ; " but his ways are secret." , 

'* And it remains for you to prove," said the rabbins, *• that 
/ou have the exclusive privilege of understanding them." 

Then, proud of finding supporters to their cause, the Jews 
thought that their law would be triumphant, when the mobed 
(high priest) of the Parses obtained leave to speak : — 

" We have heard," said he, ** the* account of the Jews and 
Christians of the origin of the world ; and, though greatly mu- 
tilated, we find in it some facts which we admit ; but we deny 
that they are to be attributed to their prophet Moses, first, be- 
cause it can not be shown that the books which bear his name 
wfere really his ; we can prove, on the contrary, by twenty pos- 
itive passages, that they were written at least six centuries later, 
and proceed evidently from the connivance of a high priest and 
a king, both well known : next, if you examine attentively the 
laws, the ceremonies, the precepts, established by Moses in 

106 * ^HB RUINS. 

those books, you will not find the slightest indication, either 
expressed or understood, of what constitutes the bases of the 
present theological doctrine of the Jews, and of their children 
the Christians. You nowhere find the least trace of the immor- 
tality of the soul, or of a future life, or of heaven, or of hell, or 
of the revolt of the principal angel, author of the evils of the 
human race, etc. 

*' These ideas were not known to Moses, and the reason is 
very obvious, since it was not till two centuries afterward that 
our prophet Zerdoust, named Zoroaster, first evangelized them 
in Asia. Thus," added the mobed, turning to the rabbins, ** it 
is not till after that epoch, that is to say, in the time of your 
first kings, that these ideas begin to appear in your writers ; and 
then their appearance is obscure and gradual, according to the 
progress of the political relations between your ancestors and 
ours. It was especially when, having been conquered by the 
kings of Nineveh and Babylon, and transported to the banks of 
the Tygris and Euphrates, they resided there for three succes- 
sive generations, that they imbibed manners and opinions which 
had been rejected as contrary to their law. When our king 
Cyrus had delivered them from slavery, disciples and imitators, 
the most distinguished families, whom the kings of Babylon 
had got instructed in the Chaldean sciences, carried back to Je- 
rusalem new ideas and foreign tenets. 

" At first the mass of the people, who had not emigrated, 
pleaded the text of the law and the absolute silence of the 
prophet ; but the Pharisean or Parse doctrine prevailed, and, 
being modified according to the ideas and genius of your nation, 
gave rise to a new sect. You expected a king to restore your 
political independence ; we announced a God to regenerate 
and save mankind : from this combination of ideas, your Esse- 
nians laid the foundation of Christianity : and whatever your 
pretensions may be, Jews, Christians, Mussulmans, you are, in 
your systems of spiritual beings, only the blundering followers 
of Zoroaster !" 

The mobed, then passing on to the details of his religion, 
quoting from the Sad-der and the Zend-Avesta, recounted, in 
the same order as Genesis, the creation of the world in six 
gahans ; the formation of a first man and a first woman in a di- 
vine place, under the reign of good ; the introduction of evil 


into the world by tbe great snake, emblem of Ahrimanes ; the 
rerolt and battles of the genias of evil and darkness against Or- 
muzd, god of good and light; the division of the angels into white 
and black, or good and bad ; their hierarchal orders, cherubim, 
seraphim, thrones, dominions, etc. ; the end of the world at the 
close of six thousand years ; the coming of the lamb, the re- 
generator of nature ; the new world ; the future life, and the 
regions of happiness and miseiy ; the passage of souls over the 
bridge of the bottomless pit; the celebration of the mysteries 
of Mythras ; the unleavened bread which the initiated eat ; the 
baptism of new-born children ; the unction of the dead, the 
confession of sins ; and, in a word, he recited so many things 
analogous to the three religions* before mentioned, that it seemed 
like a commentary or a continuation of the Koran and the Apoc- 

But the Jewish, Christian, and Mahometan doctors, crying 
out against this recital, and treating the Parses as idolaters and 
worshippers of fire, charged them with falsehood, interpolations, 
falsification of facts ; and there arose a violent dispute as to tbe 
dates of the events, their order and succession, the origin of the 
doctrines, their transmission from nation to nation, the authen- 
ticity of the books that established them, the epoch of their 
composition, the character of their compilers, and the validity 
of their testimony; and the various parties, pointing out recip- 

* The modem Parses and the ancient Mithriacs, who are the same 
sect, observe all the Christian sacraments, even the laying on of hands 
in confirmation. " The priest of Mithra," says Tertullian (De Proe- 
scriptione, c. xl.)j " promises absolution fl'om sin on confession and bap* 
tism ; and, if I rightly remember, Mithra marks his soldiers in the fore- 
head (with the chrism, the Egyptian kouphi) ; he celebrates the sacrifice 
of bread, which is the resurrection, and presents the crown to his follow- 
ers, menacing them at the same time with the sword," etc. 

In these mysteries they tried the courage of the initiated with a thou- 
sand terrors, presenting fire to his face, a sword to his breast, etc. j they 
also ofi*ered him a crown, which he refused, saying : " God is my crown :" 
and this crown is to be seen in the celestial sphere by the side of Bootes. 
The personages in these mysteries were distinguished by the names of 
the animal constellations. The ceremony of mass is nothing more than 
an imitation of these mysteries, and of those of Elcusis. The bene« 
diction, " The Lord be with you," is a literal translation of the formula 
of admission, " Chon-k, am, p-ak." See Beausobre, Histoire du Mani- 
theisme, vol. ii. 

108 THE RUtNS. 

rocal coDtradictionSt improbabilities, and forgeries, accused each 
other of having established this belief on popular runnors, vague 
traditions, and absurd fables, invented without discernment, and 
admitted without examination by unknown, ignorant, or partial 
writers, and at false or uncertain epochs. 

A great murmur now arose from under the standards of the 
various Indian sects ; and the brahmins, protesting against the 
pretensions of the Jews and Parses, said :-* 

" What are these new and almost unheard-of nations, who 
arrogantly set themselves up as the sources of the human race, 
and the depositaries of its archives ? To hear their calculations 
of five or six thousand years, it would seem that the world was 
of yesterday, whereas our monuments prove a duration of many 
thousands of centuries. And for what reason are their books to 
be preferred to ours? Are, then» the Vedas,* Chastras, and 
Pourans, inferior to the Bibles, Zend-Avestas, and Sad-ders ? 
And is not the testimony of our fathers and our gods as valid as 
that of the fathers and the gods of the occidentals ? Ah ! if it 
were permitted to reveal our mysteries to profane men ! if a sa- 
cred veil did not justly conceal them from every eye !" 

The brahmins stopping short at these words, ** How can we 
admit your doctrine," said the legislator, "if you will not make 
it known ? And how did its first authors propagate it, when, 
being alone possessed of it, their own people were to them pro- 
fane ? Did Heaven reveal it to be kept a secret ?" 

• The Vedas or Vedams are the sacred volumes of the Hindoos, as the 
Bibles with us. They are three in number : the Rick Veda, the Yadjour 
Veda, and the Sama Veda : they are so scarce in India, that the English 
could with great difficulty find an original one, of which a copy is depos- 
ited in the British museum : they who reckon four Vedas, include among 
them the Attar Veda, concerning ceremonies, but which is lost. There 
are besides commentaries, nampd upanishada, one of which was published 
by Anquetjl du Peron, and entitled Oupnekhat, a curious work. The date 
of these books is more than twenty-five centuries prior to our era ; their 
contents prove that all the reveries of the Greek metaphysicians come 
from India and Egypt. Since the year 1788, the learned men of England 
are working in India a mine of literature totally unknown in Europe, and 
which proves that the civilization of India ascends to a very remote an- 
tiquity. After the Vedas come the Chastras, amounting to six. They 
treat pf theology and the sciences. Afterward eighteen Pouranas, treat- 
ing of mythology and history. See the Bahgouet-guita, the Baga Vedamy 
SQd the E^ourrVe^^m, etc. 


But the brahmins persisting in their silence, ** Let them have 
the honor of the secret,** said a European : ** their doctrine is 
now divulged ; we possess their books, and I can give you th# 
substance of them.** 

Then beginning with an abstract of the four Vedas, the eigh- 
teen Pourans, and the five or six Chastras, he recounted how a 
being, infinite, eternal, immaterial, and round, after having 
passed an eternity in self- contemplation, and determining at last 
to manifest himself, separated the* male and female faculties 
which were in him, and performed an act of generation, of 
which the Lingam remains an emblem ; how that first act gavo 
birth to three divine powers, Brahma, Bichen or Vichenou, and 
Chib or Chiven, whose functions were — the first to create, the 
second to preserve, and the third to destroy or change the form 
of the universe : then, detailing the history of their operations 
and adventures, he explained how Brahma, proud of having 
created the world and the eight spheres of purifications, thought 
himself superior to Chib, his equal ; how this pride brought on 
a battle between them, in which the celestial globes, or orbits* 
were crushed, like a basket of eggs; how Brahma, vanquished 
in this conflict, was reduced to serve as a pedestal to Chib, met- 
amorphosed into a Lingam ; hpw Vichenou, the god mediator, 
has assumed at different times, to preserve the world, nine mor- 
tal forms of animals ; how first, in shape of a fish, he saved from 
the universal deluge a family who repeopled the earth ; how 
afterward, in the form of a tortoise, he drew from the milky sea 
the mountain M andreguiri (the pole) : then, becoming a boar, 
he tore the belly of the giant Erenniachessen, who was drown- 
ing the earth in the abyss of Djole, and saved it on his tusks ; 
how, becoming incarnate in a black shepherd, and under the 
name of Chris-en, he delivered the world of the venomous ser- 
pent Calengam, and then crushed his head, after having bees 
wounded by him in the heel. 

Then passing on to the history of the secondary genii, he 
related how the Eternal, to manifest his glory, created various 
orders of angels, who were to sing his praises, and to direct the 
universe ; how a part of these angels revolted under the gut- 
dance of an ambitious chief, who strove to usurp the power of 
God, and to govern all ; how God plunged them into a world 
of darkness, there to undergo the punishment of their crimes ; 

110 -THE KUINS. 

how at last, touched with compassion, he consented to release 
them, and receive them into favor, after they should undergo a 
long series of probations ; how, after creating for this purpose 
fifteen orbits oi' regions of planets, and peopling them with bod- 
ies, he ordered these rebel angels to undergo in them eighty- 
seven transmigrations ; he then explained how souls, thus pu- 
rified, returned to the first source, to the ocean of life and ani- 
mation from which they had proceeded ; and since all living 
creatures contain portions of this universal soul, he taught how 
criminal it was to deprive them of it. He was finally proceed- 
ing to explain the rites and ceremonies, when speaking of offer- 
ings and libations of milk and butter to gods of copper and wood, 
and then of purifications by the dung and urine of cows, there 
arose a universal murmur, mixed with peals of laughter, which 
interrupted the orator. 

Each of the different groups began to reason on that religion : 
" They are idolaters," said the Mussulmans, " and should be 
exterminated."—" They are deranged 'in their intellect," said 
the followers of Confucius ; " we should try to cure them."— 
•'What ridiculous gods," said others, " are these puppets, be- 
smeared with grease and smoke, that must be washed like dirtjf 
children, and from whom you must brush away the flies, at- 
tracted by honey, and fouling them with their excrements !" 

But a brahmin exclaimed with indignation : " These are pro- 
found mysteries — emblems of trutli which you are not worthy 
to hear." 

** And in what respect are you more worthy than we ?" ex- 
claimed a lama of Tibet. " Is it because you pretend to be 
issued from the head of Brahma, and the rest of the human race 
from the less noble parts of his body ? But to support the 
pride of your distinctions of origin and castes, prove to us in 
the first place, that you are different from other men. Estab- 
lish, in the next place, as historical facts, the allegories which 
you relate ; show us, indeed, that you are the authors of all 
this doctrine, for we will demonstrate, if necessary, that you 
have only stolen and disfigured it — that you are only the imita- 
tors of the ancient paganism of the occidentals ; to which, by 
an ill-assorted mixture, you have allied the pure and spiritual 
doctrine of our God — a doctrine totally detached from the 


senses, and entirely unknown on earth till Boudh taught it to 
the nations.'* 

A number of groups having inquired what was this doctrine, 
and who was this God, whose name the greater part of them 
had never heard, the lama*resumed, and said : — 

** In the beginning, a sole and self-existent God, having passed 
an eternity in the contemplation of his own being, resolved to 
manifest his perfections out of himself, and created the matter 
of the world. The four elements being produced, but still in a 
state of confusion, he breathed on the face of the waters, which 
swelled like an immense bubble in form of an egg, which un« 
folding, became the vault or orb of heaven enclosing the world. 
Having made the earth, and the bodies of animals, this God, 
essence of motion, imparted to them a portion of his own being 
to animate them : for this reason, the soul of eyeiythiog that 
breathes being a fraction of the universal soul, no one of them 
can perish ; they only change their form and mould in passing 
successively into different bodies. Of all these forms, the one 
most pleasing to God is that of man, as most resembling his 
own perfections. When a man, by an absolute disengagement 
from his senses, is wholly absorbed in self-contemplation, he 
then discovers the divinity and becomes himself God. Of all 
the incarnations of this kind that God has hitherto taken, the 
greatest and most solemn was that in which he appeared twen- 
.ty-eight centuries ago in Kachemire, under the name of Fot or 
Boudh, to preach the doctrine of self-denial and self-annihila- 
tion.*' Then, pursuing the history of Fot, the lama said : '* He 
was bom from the right flank of a virgin of royal blood, who did 
not cease to be a virgin for having become a mother ; that the 
king of the country, alarmed at his birth, wished to destroy 
him, and for this purpose ordered a massacre of all the males 
born at that period ; that being saved by shepherds, Boudh lived 
In the desert till the age of thirty, when he began his mission, 
to enlighten men and cast out devils ; that he performed a mul- 
titude of the most astonishing miracles ; that he spent his life 
in fasting and severe penitence, and at his death bequeathed to 
his disciples a book which contained his doctrines." And the 
lama began to read : — 

••* * He that leaveth his father and mother to follow me,' says 
Fot, » becomes a perfect Samanean' (heavenly man). 


** • He that practiMf my precepts to the fourth degree of per- 
fection, acquires the faculty of flyiog in the air, of moying 
heaven and earth, of prolonging and shortening life' (rising from 
the dead). 

" ' The Samanean despises riches, and uses only what is 
strictly necessary ; he mortifies his t)ody; silences his passions; 
desires nothing ; forms no attachments ; meditates my doctrines 
without ceasing ; endures injuries with patience, and bears no 
malice to his neighbor. 

'^ * Heaven and earth shall perish,* says Fot : * despise, there- 
fore, your bodies composed of the four perbhable elements, and 
think only of your immortal soul. 

** * Listen not to the flesh : fear and sorrow spring from the 
passions : stifle the passions, and you destroy fear and sorrow. 

** * Whoever dies without haviiig embraced my religion,' says 
Fot, * returns among men until he embraces it.* ** 

The lama* was proceeding, when the Christians, interrupting 

* See the History of Manicheism, by Beausobre, who proves that these 
sectaries were pure Zoroastrians ; which makes the existence of their 
opinions to precede J. C. by 1200 years. It follows, therefore, that 
Boudh Chaucasam was still more ancient, since the Boudhite doctrine is 
found in the oldest Indian books, that preceded our era by 3100 yean 
(such as Bahgouet Guita). Observe, moreover, that Boudh is the ninth 
avatar or incarnation of Vichenou, which places him at the origin of this 
theology. Further, among the Indians, Chinese, Tibetans, etc., BoudhT 
is the name of the planet we call Mercury, and of the day of the week 
consecrated to that planet (Wednesday) : this carries him back to the 
origin of the calendar, at the same time that it shows him to have been 
primitively identical with Hermes. His existence, therefore, extended to 
Egypt. Now observe, that the Egjrptian priests make Hermes at his 
death to say : " I have hitherto lived banished from my true country ; I 
" now go back there. Do not weep for me : I return to the celestial coun- 
try whither every one goes in his turn ; there dwells God : this life is but 
death.'' (See Chalcidius in Timoeum.) Now, this dpctrine is precisely 
that of the ancient Boudhites or Samaneans, of the P]rthagoricians and 
of the Orphies. In the doctrine of Orpheus, the god world is represented 
by an egg : in the Hebrew and Arabian idioms, the egg is called baidh— 
analogous to Boudh (God), and to Bond, in Persian, existence, what is 
(the world). Boudh is also analogous to bed vad, signifying, among the 
Indians, science. Hermes was its god : he was the author of the sacred 
books, or Egyptian Vedas. What ramifications, and what a remote an- 
tiquity, does not all this suppose. Now the Boudhite priest of Ava adds : 
'< It is an article of faith that from time to time Heaven sends upon earth 


iiiin, exclaimed that this was their own religion adoherated ; 
that Fot was no other than Jesus himself disfigured, and that 
the lamas were the Nestoriaos and Manicheans disguised and 

But the lama, supported by the chamans, bonzes, gonnisy 
talapoins, of Siam, of Ceylon, of Japan, and of China, proved 
to the Christians, even from their own authors, that the doctrine 
of the Samaneans was diffused through the East more than a 
thousand years before the Christian era ; that their name was 
cited before the time of Alexander ; and that Boutta or Boudh 
-was known long before Jesus. Then, retorting the pretensions 
of the Christians against themselves : ^ Prove to us, now," said 
the lama, ** that you are not yourselves degenerate Samaneans, 
and that the man whom you matce the author of your sect is 
not Fot himself disfigured. Prove to us by historical facts thai 
he even existed at the epoch yon pretend ; for it being destitute 
of authentic testimony,* we absolutely deny it ; and we main- 
some Boudhas to reclsfim men, to save them from vice, and show them 
the ways of salvation.'' With such a dogma extending over India, Per> 
sia, Egypt, and Judea, it is no wonder that men's minds should be pre* 
pared long beforehand for what latter ages offer to our view. 

(* '* All the world knows/' says ^gufglj^, who, though a Manichean^ 
vras one of the most learned men of the third century— << All tiie world 
knows that the gospels were neither written by Jesus Christ, nor his 
apostles, but, a long time after, by unknown persons, who, rightly judg. 
Ing that they should not obtain belief respecting things which they had 
not seen, placed at the head of their recitals the names of contemporary 
apostles." Consult upon this question, " Histoire des Apologistes de la 
Religion Chretienne," attributed to Freret, but which was written by 
fiurigny, member of the Academy of Inscriptions. See, also, Mosheim, 
de Rebus Christianorum ; Correspondence of Atterbury, archbishop, 9 ,' ' 
vols. 8vo., 1798 J Toland Nazarenus j and Beausobre, Histoire du Mani- ■ 
cheisme, vol. 1. From all that has been written for and against it, re- 
sults that the precise origin of Christianity is unknown ; that the pre- 
tended testimonies of Josephus (Antiq. Jud., lib. xviii., c. 3) and of 
Tacitus (Annals, b. xv., c. 44), have been interpolated about the time 
of the council of Nice, and that nobody could ever demonstrate the radi- 
cal fact, that is to say, the real existence of the personage who gave rise 
to the system. Without that existence, however, it would be difficult 
to conceive the appearance of the system at its known epoch, although 
history offers many examples of gratuitous and absolute suppositions. 
To resolve this truly curious and important problem, some man of sa- 
gacity, instruction, and, above all, impartiality, benefiting by the re- 
searches already made, should form a comparative table of the doctrine 


114 THE BT7INS. 

tain that your very gospels are only the book of some Mithriacs 
of Persia, and Essenians of Syria, who were a branch of r^ 
formed Samaneans.** 

At these words, the Christians set up a general cry, and a 
new dispute was going to begin, when a number of Chinese 
ehamans, and talapoios of Siam, came forward, and said that 
they would settle the whole controversy. And one of them 
spealiing for the whole — " It is time,'* said he, ** to put an end 
to these frivolous contests by drawing aside the veil from the 
interior doctrine* that Fot himself revealed to his disciples on 
his death-bed." 

of the Boudhltes, and specially of the sect of Saxnana Gautama, contemn* 
porary with Cyrus ; he should examine what was the facility of commup 
nication of India with Persia and Syria, particularly after the reign of 
Darius Hystaspes, who, according to Agathius and Ammianus, consulted 
the wise men of India, and introduced several of their ideas among the 
magi : further, what facility there was after Alexander's time, under the 
Seleucidoe, who kept up diqilomatical relations with the Indian kings ; he 
would see that, through these communications, the system of the Sama- 
neans might have gradually extended as far as Egypt ; that it might 
have been the determining cause of the corporation of the Essenians in 
Judea, etc. The only question then would be, if, when all was thus pre- 
pared, the genered exaltation of men's minds might not have prompted 
an individual to fill the allotted part, either because he declared and be- 
lieved himself to be the personage announced, or because the multitude, 
enchanted with his conduct, doctrine, and preaching, attributed to him 
that character. In either case, it is extremely probable that popular 
disturbances excited the suspicions and vigilance of the Roman govern- 
ment, and that at length some remarkable incident, such as the entrance 
into Jerusalem, forced the prefect to adopt a measure of rigor, an act of se- 
verity, that suddenly put an end to the drama (nearly as related) , but which 
only augmented the interest which the regretted personage inspired, and 
by that means gave rise to narrations and associations the result of which 
would perfectly ^gree with the state of things afterward seen in history. 
Doubtless where her positive testimony is wanting, there no moral cer- 
tainty can exist ; but by the concatenation of causes and effects, a de- 
gree of probability producing the same effect may be attained, since, 
even with the most positive testimonies, history can only pretend to a 
greater or lesser degree of probability . 

* The Boudhites have two doctrines : the one public and ostensible, 
the other interior and secret, precisely like the Egyptian priests. It may 
be asked, why this distinction ? Because, as the public doctrine recom- 
mends offerings, expiations, endowments, etc., the priests find their 
profit in preaching it to the people ,• whereas the other, teaching the 
vanity of worldly things, and behig attended with no lucre, it is thought 


** All these theological opinions," said he, "are but chimeras. 
All the stories of the nature of the gods, of their actions and 
lives, are but allegories and mythological emblems, under which 
are enveloped ingenious ideas of morals, and the knowledge of 
the operations of nature in the action of the elements and the 
movement of the planets. 

** The truth is, that all is reduced to nothing ; that all is illu- 
sion, appearance, dream ; that the moral metempsychosis is only 
the figurative sense of the physical metempsychosis, or the suc- 
cessive movement by which the elements of the same body 
perish not, but, at its dissolution, pass into other mediums and 
form other combinations. The soul is but the vital principle 
which results from the properties of matter, and from the action 
of the elements in those bodies where they create a spontaneous 
movement. To suppose that this product of the play of the 
organs, born with them, matured with them, and which sleeps 
with them, can subsist when they cease, is the romance of a 
wandering imagination — perhaps agreeable, but absolutely chi- 
merical. God itself is nothing more than the moving principle, 
the occult force inherent in all beings ; the sum of their laws 
and properties ; the animating principle ; in a word, the soul of 
the universe, which, on account of the infinite variety of its 
connexions and operations, sometimes simple, sometimes mul* 
tiple, sometimes active, sometimes passive, has always presented 
to the human mind an insolvable enigma. All that man can 
comprehend with certainty is, that matter does not perish; that 
it possesses essentially those properties by which the world is 
held together like a living and organized being ; that the knowl« 
edge of these laws, with respect to man, is what constitutes 
wisdom ; that virtue and merit consist in their observance, and 
evil, sin, and vice, in the ignorance and violation of them ; that 
happiness and misery result from these by the same necessity 
which makes heavy bodies descend, and light ones rise, by a fa- 
tality of causes and effects, whose chain extends from the small- 
est atom to the greatest of the heavenly bodies. All this was 
revealed on his death-bed by our Boudah Somona Goutama.'* 

At these words, a crowd of theologians of every sect cried out 
that this doctrine was materialism ; and those who profess it 

proper to make it known only to Mepts. Thus are men divided into the 
two evidently distinct classes of knaves and dupes I 

lib' THE RUINS. 

were impious atheists, enemies to (rod and man, wlio most be 
exterminated. — •• Very well !" replied the Chamans, •• suppose 
we are in an error, which is not impossible, since the first attri-- 
bute of the human mind is to be subject to illusion : but what 
right have you to take away from men like yourselves, the life 
which Heaven hat given them ? If Heaven holds us guilty, 
and in abhorrence, why does it impart to us the same blessings 
as to you ? And if it tolerates us, what right have you to be 
less indulgent ? Pious men ! who speak of God with so much 
certainty and confidence, please to tell us what it is ; give us to 
comprehend what these abstract metaphysical beings are, which 
you call God and soul, substance without matter, existence 
without body, life without organs or sensation. If you know 
those beings by your senses or their reflections, render them m 
like manner perceptible to us ; or, if you speak of them on tea* 
timony and tradition, show us a uniform account, and give a 
determinate basis to our creed." There now arose among the 
theologians a great controversy respecting God and his nature ; 
his manner of acting and of manifesting himself; on the nature 
of the soul and its union with the body ; whether it exists be- 
fore the organs, or only after they are formed ; on the future 
life and the other world : and every sect, every school, every in- 
dividual, differing on all these points, and each assigning plausi- 
ble reasons, and respectable though opposite authorities, for his 
opinion, they fell into an inextricable labyrinth of contradic- 

Then the legislator, having commanded silence' and recalled 
the dispute to its true object, said : " Chiefs and instructors of 
the people, you came together in search of truth. At first, ev- 
ery one of you, thinking he possessed it, demanded of the others 
an implicit faith ; but receiving the contrariety of your opin- 
ions, you found it necessary to submit them to a common rule 
of evidence, and to bring them to one general term of compari- 
son : and you agreed that each should exhibit the proofs of his 
doctrine. You began by alleging facts ; but each religion and 
every sect, being equally furnished with miracles and martyrs, 
each producing an equal cloud of witnesses, and offering to sup- 
port them by a voluntary death, the balance on this first point, 
by right of parity, remained equal. 

'* You then passed to the trial of reasoning ; but the same 


•rgnments applyiog equally to contrary positions — the same as* 
sertlons, equally gratuitous, being adyanced and repelled with 
equal force, and all having an equal right to refuse assent, noth- 
ing was demonstrated. What is more, the confrontation of 
your systems has brought up new and extraordinary difficulties ; 
for amid the apparent or adventitious diversities, you have dis- 
covered a fundamental resemblance, a common groundwork ; 
and each of you, pretending to be the inventor and first depos- 
itary, have taxed each other with adulterations and plagiarisms : 
and thence arises a difficult question concerning the transmis- 
sion of religious ideas from people to people. 

** Finally, to complete the embarrassment, when you endeav- 
ored to explain your doctrines to each other, they appeared con- 
fused and foreign, even to their adherents ; they were founded 
on ideas inaccessible to your senses : of consequence you had 
no means of judging of them, and you confessed yourselves in 
this respect to be only the echoes of your fathers. Hence fol- 
lows this other question t How came they to the knowledge of 
your fathers, who themselves had no other means than you to 
conceive them ? — so that, on the one hand, the succession of 
these ideas being unknown, and, on the other, their origin and 
existence being a mystery, all the edifice of your religious 
opinions becomes a cpmplicated problem of metaphysics and 

" Since, however, these opinions, extraordinary as they may 
be, must have had some origin — since even the most abstract 
and fantastical ideas have some physical model, it may be useful 
to recur to this origin, and discover this model ; in a word, to 
find out from what source the human understanding has drawn 
these ideas, at present so obscure, x>f the divinity, the soul, and 
all immaterial beings, which make the basis of so many sys- 
tems ; to unfold the filiation which they have followed, and the 
alterations which they have undergone in their transmissions 
and ramifications. If, then, there are any persons present who 
have made, a study of these objects, let them come forward, and 
' endeavor, in the face of nations, to dissipate the obscurity in 
which their opinions have so long strayed.*' 

lie ^HE RUINS. 



At these words, a new group, formed in an instant hj men 
from various standards, but not distinguished by any, came for- 
ward in the circle ; and one of them spoke in the name of the 
whole : — 

" Legislator ! friend of evidence and truth, it is not astonish- 
ing that the subject in question should be enveloped in so many 
clouds, since, besides its inherent difficulties, thought itself has 
* alwaySr been encumbered with superadded obstacles peculiar to 
this study, where all free inquiry and discussion have been in- 
terdicted by the intolerance of every system ; but now that our 
views are permitted to expand, we will expose to open day, and 
submit to the judgment of nations, that which unprejudiced 
minds after long researches have found to be most reasonable ; 
and we do this, not with the pretension of imposing a new creed, 
but with the hope of provoking new lights, and obtaining better 

" Doctors and instructors of nations ! You know what thick 
darkness covers the nature, the origin, the history, of the dogmas 
which you teach: imposed by force and authority, inculcated by 
education, and maintained by example, they pass from age to age, 
and strengthen their empire from habit and inattention. But if 
man, enlightened by reflection and experience, brings to mature 
examination the prejudices of his childhood, he soon discovers 
a multitude of incongruities and contradictions which awaken 
his sagacity and excite his reasoning powers. 

** At first, remarking the diversity and opposition of the creeds 
which divide the nations, he rejects the infallibility which each 
of them claims; and arming himself with their reciprocal pre- 
tensions, he conceives that his senses and his reason, derived 
immediately from God, are a law not less holy, a guide not less 
sure, than the mediate and contradictory codes of the prophets. 

** If he then examines the texture of these codes themselves, 
he observes that their laws, pretended to be divine, that is, im- 
mutable and eternal, have arisen from circumstanees of times. 


places, and persons ; that they have issued, one from the other, 
in a kind of genealogical order, borrowing from each other re- 
ciprocally a common and similar fund of ideas, which every 
lawgiver modifies according to his fancy. 

" If he ascends to the source of these ideas, he finds it involv- 
ed in the night of time, in the infancy of nations, even in the 
origin of the world, to which they claim alliance ; and there, 
placed in the darkness of chaos, in the empire of fables and tra- 
ditions, they present themselves, accompanied with a state of - 
things so full of prodigies, that it seems to forbid all access to 
the judgment; but this state itself excites a first efibrt of reason, 
which resolves the diflSculty; for, if the prodigies found in the 
theological systems have really existed — if, for instance, the 
metamorphoses, the apparitions, the conversations with'*one or 
many gods, recorded in the sacred books of the Indians, the 
Hebrews, the Parses, are historical events, he must agree that 
nature in those times was totally different from what it is at 
present ; that the present race of men are quite another species 
from those who then existed, and, therefore, he ought not to 
trouble his head about them. 

" If, on the contrary, these miraculous events have really not V 
existed in the physical order of things, then he readily conceives I 
that they are creatures of the human intelfect ; and this faculty ) 
being still capable of the most fantastical combinations, explains 
at once the phenomenon of these monsters in history : it only 
remains, then, to find how and wherefore they have been formed 
in the imagination. Now, if we examine with care the subjects 
of these intellectual creations, analyze the ideas which they 
combine and associate, and attentively weigh all the circum- 
stances which they allege, we shall find that this first obscure 
and incredible state of things is expl'^unpd by the laws of nature; 
we find that these stories of a fabulous kind have a figurative 
se nse, differe nt from th e appare aLimfe4 iji at these eve nts, pre- 
tended t o be m arvelbus, are simple ^nd^rhyajgal fa fit?, wh^^h, 
being misconceived or misrepresented, have been disfigured by 
accidental causes dependent on the human mind, by the confu- 
sion of signs employed to paint the ideas,ythe want of precision 
in words, permanence in language, and jjjerfection in writing ; 
we find that these gods, for instance, who display such singular 
characters in every system, are only the physical agents of na- 

120 THB Rxnirs. 

tare, the eletneDts, the winds, the stars, and the meteon, which 
have been personified by the necessary mechanism of language 
and of the human understanding ; that their lives, their man- 
ners, their actions, are only their mechanical operations and 
connexions ; and that all their pretended history is only the de- 
scription of these phenomena, formed by the first naturalists 
who observed them, and misconceived by the vulgar who did 
not understand them, or by succeeding generations who forgot 
them. In a word, all the theological dogmas on the origin of 
the world, the nature of God, the revelation of his laws, the 
manifestation of his person, are known to be only the recital of 
astronomical facts, only figurative and emblematical accounts 
of the motion of the heavenly bodies ; we are convinced that 
the very idea of a God, that idea at present so obscure, is, in its 
first origin, nothing but that of the physical powers of the uni- 
vene, considered sometimes as a plurality by reason of their 
agencies and phenomena, sometimes as one simple and only be- 
ing by reason of the universality of the machine and the con- 
nexion of its parts ; so that the being called God has been some- 
times the wind, the fire, the water, all the elements ; sometimes 
the sun, the stars, the planets, and their influence ; sometimes 
the matter of the visible world, the totality of the universe ; 
sometimes abstract and metaphysical qualities, such as space, 
duration, motion, and intelligence ; and we everywhere see this 
conclusion, that the idea of God has not been a miraculous 
revelation of invisible beings, but a natural offspring of the 
human intellect, an operation of the mind, whose progress it 
has followed, and whose revolutions it has undergone, in all 
the knowledge it has acquired of the physical world and its 

" It is, then, in vain that nations attribute their religion to 
heavenly inspirations, it is in vain that their dogmas pretend to 
a primeval state of supernatural events : the original barbarity 
of the human race,* attested by their own monuments, belies 
these assertions at once ; but there is one constant and indubita- 
ble fact which refutes, beyond contradiction, all these doubtful 

* It is the unanimous testimony of history and even of legendSy that 
the first human beings were everywhere savages, and that it was to cir- 
Uize them, and to teach them to make bread, that the gods manifested 


accounts of past ages. From this position, that man acquires 
and receives no ideas but through the medium of his senses,* it 
follows, with certainty, that every notion which pretends to any 
other origin than that of sensation and experience, is the erro- 
neous supposition of a posterior reasoning ; now, it is sufficient 
to cast an eye upou the sacred systems of the origin of the 
world, and of the actions of the gods, to discover ip every idea, 
in every word, the anticipation of an order of things which could 
not exist till a long time after. Reason, strengthened by these 
contradictions, rejecting everything that is not in the order of 
nature, and admitting no historical facts but those founded on 
probabilities, lays open its own system, and pronounces itself 
with assurance : — 

** Before one nation had received from another nation dogmas 
already invented ; before one generation had inherited ideas ac- 
quired by a preceding genemtion, none of these complicated 
systems could have existed in the world. The first men, being 
children of nature, anterior to all events, ignorant of all science, 
were born without any idea of the dogmas arising from scholas- 
tic disputes ; of rites founded on the practice of arts not then 
known ; of precepts framed after the development of passions ; 
of laws which suppose a language, a state of society, not then 
in being ; of God, whose attributes all refer to physical objects, 
and his actions to a despotic state of government ; or of the soul, 
or of any of those metaphysical beings, which we are told are 
not the objects of sense, and for which, however, there can be 
no other means of access to the understanding. To arrive at so 
many results, the necessary circle of preceding facts must have 
been observed ; slow experience and repeated trials must have 
taught the rude man the use of his organs ; the accumulated 
observations of successive generations must have invented and 
improved the means of living ; and the mind, freed from the 
cares of the first wants of nature, must have raised itself to the 
complicated ait of comparing ideas, of digesting argument, and 
seizing abstract similitudes. 

* The rock eft which the ancients split, and which has occasioned all 
their enocs, has been the snppoaoig the idea of God innate, and coeter- 
nal with the soul ; and hence all the reveries developed in Plato and Jam- 
blicus. See the Timoeus, the Phedon, and De Mysteriis JEgyptiorunif 
sect, i., c. iii. 


122 THE Bt7IN& 

Origin of the idea of God ; worship of ike dements and of the 
physical powers of nature. 

** It was not till after having qvercome these obstacles, and 
gone through a long career in the night of history, that man, 
reflecting on his condition, began to perceive that he was sub- 
jected to forces superior to his own, and independent of hia 
will. The sun enlightened and warmed him, fire burned him, 
thunder terrified him, the wind beat upon him, and water 
drowned him ; all beings acted upon him powerfully and irre- 
sistibly. He sustained this action for a long time, like a machine, 
without inquiring the cause ; but the moment he began his in- 
quiries,' he fell into astonishment, and, passing from the surprise 
of his first reflections to the revery of curiosity, he began a chain 
of reasoning. 

** First, considering the action of the elements on him, he 
conceived an idea of weakness and subjection on his part, and 
of power and domination on theirs ; and this idea of power 
was the primitive and fundamental type of every idea of the 

*• Secondly, the action of these natural existences excited in 
him sensations of pleasure or pain, of good or evil ; and by a 
natural effect of his organization, he conceived for them love or 
aversion ; he desired or dreaded their presence ; and fear or hope 
gave rise to the flrst idea of religion. 

" Then, judging everything by comparison, and remarking in 
these beings a spontaneous movement like his own, he supposed 
this movement directed by a will, an intelligence, of the nature 
of his own ; and hence, by induction, he formed a new reason- 
ing. Having experienced that certain practices toward his fel- 
low-creatures had the effect to modify their affections and direct 
their conduct, he resorted to the same practices toward these 
powerful beings of the universe : he reasoned thus : • When my 
fellow-creature, stronger than I, is disposed to do me injury, I 
demean myself before him, and by prayers succeed in appeasing 
him. I will pray to these powerful beings who strike roe ; I 
will implore the intelligences of the wiods, the stars, and the 
waters, and they will hear me. I will conjure them to avert the 
evil and give me the good that is at their disposal ; I will moye 

THB Bums* 1523 

them by my teats, I will sofien them by offerioge, and will en- 
joy happiness.* 

** Thus simple man, in the infancy of his reason, spoke to the 
enn and moon ; he animated with his own understanding and 
passions the great agents of nature ; he thought, by vain sounds 
and yain practicest to change their inflexible laws : fatal error ! 
He prayed the stone to ascend, the water to rise above its level, 
the mountains to remove, and, substituting a faotastical world for 
the real one, he peopled it with imaginary beings, to the terror 
of his mind and the torment of his race. 

«* In this manner the ideas of God and religion have sprung, 
lilce all otfaer#, from physical objects, and were produced in the 
mind of man by his sensations, his wants, the circumstances of 
his life, and the progressive state of his knowledge. 

** Now^ as the ideas of the Divinity had their first models in 
physical agents, it followed that the Divinity was at first varied 
and manifold, like the form under which he appeared to act : 
every being was a power, a genius, and the first men conceived 
the universe filled with innumerable gods. 

** A gain, the ideas of the Divinity have been created by the 
affections of the huQian heart ; they became necessarily divided 
into two classes, according to the sensations of pleasure or pain, 
love or hatred : the powers of nature, the gods, the genii, were 
divided into beneficent and malignant, good and evil ; and 
hence the universality of these two characters in all the systems 
of religion. 

** These ideas, analogous to the condition of their inventors, 
were for a long time confused and ill-digested. Savage meo* 
wandering in the woods, beset with wants, and destitute of re- 
sources, had not the leisure to combine principles and draw con- 
clusions ; affected with more evils than they found pleasures, 
their most habitual sentiment was that of fear, their theology 
terror ; their worship was confined to a few salutationa and of- 
ferings to beings whom they conceived as ferocious and as 
greedy as themselves. In their state of equality and independ- 
ence, no man offered himself as a mediator between men and 
gods as insubordinate and poor as himself. No man having su- 
perfluities to give, there existed no parasite by the name of 
priest, no tribute by the name of victim, no empire by the name 
of altar ; their dogmas and their morals were the same thing, il 

134 THB RXnNS. 

was only self-presenratibn ; and religion, Ifaat arbitrary idea, 
without influence on the mutual relations of men, was a vaiii 
homage rendered to the yisible powers of nature. 

« Such' was theLuecessaiy and original idea of the Divinity.*' 
And the orator addressing himself to the savage nations: *' We 
appeal to you, men who have received no foreign and factitious 
ideas, say, have you ever gone beyond what I have described ? 
And you, doctors, we call you to Witness, is not this the unani- 
mous testimony of all ancient monuments ?* 

* "It clearly results/' says Plutarch, ''from the veraes of Oxpheusy 
and the sacred books of the Egyptians and Phrygians, that the ancient 
theology, not only of the Greeks, but of all nations, was nothing more 
than a system of physics, a picture of the operations of nature, wrapped 
up in' mysterious allegories and enigmatical symbols, so that the ignorant 
multitude attended rather to their apparent than to their hidden meaning, 
and even in what they understood of the latter, supposed something more 
deep than what they perceived.'' — Fragment of a work of Plutarchj now 
lost, quoted by Eusebius Prcepar. Evaug., lib. m., c. i., p. 85. 

" The majority of philosophers," says Porphyry, *^ and among others 
Chceremon (who lived in Egypt in the first age of Christianity) ^ imagine 
there never existed any other world than the«one we see, and acknowl- 
edged no other gods, of all those recognised by the Egyptians, than such 
as are commonly called^ planets, signs of the zodiac, and constellations ; 
whose aspects (risings and settings) are supposed to influence the for- 
tunes of men ! to which they add their divisions of the signs into decans 
or rulers of time, whom they style lords of the ascendant, whose names, 
virtues in healing distempers, rising, setting, and presages of future 
events, are the subjects of almanacs (and the Egyptian priests had alma- 
nacs the exact counterpart of Matthew Laensberg's) j for when the 
priests afiirmed that the sun -was the architect of the universe, Choeremon 
presently concludes that all their narratives respecting Isis and Osiris, 
together with their other sacred fables, referred in part to the planets, 
the phases of the moon, and the revolution of the sun, and in part to the 
stars of the daily and nightly hemispheres, and the river Nile ; in a word, 
to physical and natural existences, and never to such as might be imma- 
tenal and incorporeal. All these philosophers believe that the acts of 
our will and the motion of our bodies depend upon those of the stars to 
which they are subjected, and they refer everything to the laws of 
(physical) necessity, which they call destiny or fate, supposing a chain 
of causes and effects which binds, by I know not what connexion, all be- 
ings together, from the atom to the supreme power and primary influence 
of the gods ; so that, whether in their temples, or in their images and 
idols, the only subject of worship is the power of destiny." (Porph. Ep 
ad lanebonem.) 

THB RtTINS. 126 

11. Second system. Worship of the Starst or Saheism* 

" But those same monuments present us, likewise, a mora 
methodical and complicated system — that of the worship of all 
the stars, adored sometimes in their proper forms, sopnetimM 
iinder figurative emblems and symbols ; and this worship was 
the effect of the knowledge men had acquired in physics, and 
was derived immediately from the first causes of the social state* 
that is, from the necessities and arts of the first degree, which 
are among the elements of society. ^ 

** Indeed, as soon as men began to unite in society, it became 
necessaiy for them to multiply the means of subsistence, and 
consequently to attend to agriculture : agnculture, to be carried 
on with success, requires the observation and knowledge of the 
heavens.* It was necessary to know the periodical return of 
the same operations of nature, and the same phenomena in the 
skies ; indeed, to go so far as to ascertain the duration and suc- 
cession of the seasons and the months of the year. It was in- 
dispensable to know, in the first place, the course of the sun, 
who, in his zodiacal revolutions, shows himself the first and su- 
preme agent of the whole creation ; then of the moon, who, by 
her phases and periods, regulates and distributes time ; then of 
the stars, and even planets, which, by their appearance and dis- 
appearance on the horizon and nocturnal hemisphere, marked 
the minutest divisions ; finally, it was necessary to form a whole 
system of astronomy, or a calendar ; and from these works there 
naturally followed a new manner of considering these predomi- 
nant and governing powers. Having observed that the produc- 
tions of the earth had a regular and constant relation with the 
heavenly bodies ; that the rise, growth, and decline of each plant 

• It continues to be repeated every day, on the indirect authority of the 
book of GrenesiSy that astronomy was the invention of the children of 
Noah. It has been gravely said that, while wandering as shepherds in 
the plains of Shlnar, they employed their leisure in composing a plan- 
etary system ; as if shepherds were under the necessity of knowing more 
than the polar star, and as if necessity was not the sole motive of every 
invention .' If the ancient shepherds were so studious and sagacious, how 
does it happen that the modem ones are so ignorant and inattentive t 
Now it is a &ct, that the Arabs of the desert do not know six constell^ 
tions, and do not understand a word of astronomy. 


126 rpHB Rxmrs. 

kept pace with the appearance, eleyation, and declination of the 
same star, or gtoup of stars ; in short, that the languor or ac« 
tivity of vegetation seemed to depend on celestial influenceSf 
men drew thence an idea of action, of power in those beings, 
superior to earthly bodies; and the stars, dispensing plenty 
or scarcity, became powers, genii, gods, authors of good and 

** As the state of society had already introduced a regular 
hierarchy of ranks, employments, and conditions, men, continu- 
ing to reason by comparison, carried their new notions into 
their theology, and formed a complicated system of gradual 
divinities, in which the sun, as first god, was a military chief, 
a political king ; the moon was his wife, and queen ; the plan- 
ets were servants, bearers of commands, messengers ; and the 
multitude of stars were a nation, an army of heroes, genii, 
whose office was to govern the world under the orders of their 
chiefs; and all the individuals had names, functions, attributes, 
drawn from their isolations and influences ; and even sexes, from, 
the gender of their appellations.* 

** And as the social state had introduced certain usages and 
ceremonies, religion also adopted similar ones ; these ceremo- 
nies, at first simple and private, became public and solemn ; the 
offerings became rich and more numerous, and the rites more 
methodical ; they assigned certain places for the assemblies, and 
began to have chapels and temples ; they instituted officers to 
administer them, and these became priests and pontiffs ; they 
established Hturgies, and sanctified certain days, and religion 
became a civil act, a political tie. But in this arrangement re- 
ligion did not change its first principles, and the idea of God 
was always that of physical beings, operating good or evil, that 
is, impressing sensation^ of pleasure or pain ; the dogma was 
the knowledge of their laws or manner of acting ; virtue and siov 
the observance or infraction of these laws ; and morality, in its 
native simplicity, was the judicious practice of whatever con- 

* According as the gender of the object was, in the language of the na- 
tion , mascnline or feminine, the divinity who bore its name was male or 
female. Thus the Cappadocians called the moon god, and the sun god- 
dess ; 8 circumstance which gives to the same beings a perpetual variety 
in ancient mythology. 


tributes to the preservation of existence/ the well-being of one's 
self and his fellow- creatures. 

*' Should it be asked at what epoch this system took its birth, 
we shall answer, on the testimony of the monumeots of astron- 
omy itself, that its principles appear incontestably to have been 
established more than fifteen thousand years ago :f and if it be 
asked to what people it is to be attributed, we shall answer that 
the same monuments, supported by unanimous traditions, at- 
tribute it to the first tribes of Egypt ; and when reason finds in 
that country all the curcumstances which could lead to such a 
system ; when it finds there a zone of sky, bordering on the 

* To this Plutarch adds, that these (Egyptian) priests always regarded 
the preserraticm of health as a point of first importance, and as indispen- 
sably necessary to the practice of piety and the service of the gods, etc. 
(See Isis and Osiris, toward the end.) « 

t The historical orator follows here the opinion of the learned Dupuis, 
who first, in his memoir concerning the origin of the constellations, and 
afterward in his great work concerning the origin of all worship, has col- 
lected a great many arguments to prove that formerly Libra was the sign 
of the vernal, and Aries of the autumnal equinox ; that is, that the pre- 
cession of the equinoxes has produced a change of more than seven signs. 
The action of this phenomenon can not be denied : the most recent cal- 
culations value it at 50 seconds, 12 or 15 thirds a year : therefore, 
every degree of the zodiacal signs is removed or put back in 71 years, 8 
or 9 months ; therefore an entire sign in 2,153 or 2,153 years. But if, as 
is the fact, the equinoctial point of spring was exactly in the first degree 
of Aries, in the year 388 before J. C. ; that is, if at that period the sun 
had gone throu^ and put back a whole sign, to enter into Pisces, which 
he has left in our own time, it follows that if he had left Taurus 2,153 
years before, that is, about the year 2,640 before J. C, and had entered 
it about the year 4,692 before J. C. Thus ascending from sign to sign, 
the first degree of Aries was the autumnal equinoctial point about 12,912 
years before the year 388, that is to say, 13,300 years before the Christian 
era : add our eighteen centuries, you will find 15,100 years, and, more 
over, the quantity of time and of ages necessary to bring astronomical 
knowledge to such a degree of perfection. Now it is to be observed that 
the worship of the Bull is the principal article in the theological creed 
of the Egyptians, Persians, Japanese, etc., which clearly indicates at that 
epoch some common system of ideas among these nations. The five or 
six thousand years of Genesis can be objected only by those who believe 
in it from education. (See on this subject the analysis of Genesis, in the 
first volume of New Researches on Ancient History : see also Origin of 
Constellations, by Dupuis, 1781 ; the Origin of Worship, in 3 vols., 1794 j 
and the Chronological Zodiac, in 4to, 1806.) 


tropic, equsJlj free from the rains of the equator and the fogs 
of the Dorth ; when it finds there a central point of the sphere 
of the ancients, a salubrious climate, a great, but manageable 
river, a soil fertile without labor or art, inundated without mor- 
bid exhalations, and placed between two seas which communi- 
cate with the richest countries, it conceives that the inhabitant 
of the Nile, addicted to agriculture from the nature of his soil, 
to geometry from the annual necessity of measuring his lands, 
to commerce from the facility of communications, to astronomy 
from the state of his sky, always open to observation, must have 
been the first to pass from the savage to the social state, and con- 
sequently to attain the physical and moral sciences necessary to 
civilized life. 

'^ It was, then, on the borders of the upper Nile, among a 
black race of men, that was organized the complicated system 
of the worship of the stars considered in relation to the produc* 
tions of the earth and the labors of agriculture ; and this first 
worship, characterized by their adoration under their own forms 
and natural attributes, was a simple proceeding of the human 
mind : but in a short time, the multiplicity of the objects, of 
their relations, and their reciprocal influence, having complica- 
ted the ideas and the signs that represented them, there followed 
a confusion as singular in its cause as pernicious in its efiects. 

III. 7%ird System.'^Worship of Symbols, or Idolatry, 

**As soon as this agricultural people began to observe the 
stars with attention, they found it necessary to individualize or 
group them, and to assign to each a proper name, in order to 
understand each other in their designation. But to this there 
was a great obstacle ; for, on the one hand, the heavenly bodies, 
similar in form, offered no distinguishing characteristics by 
which to denominate them, and, on the other, language, in its 
infancy and poverty, had no expressions for so many new and 
metaphysical ideas. Necessity, the usual stimulus of genius, 
surmounted everything. Having remarked that, in the annual 
revolution, the renewal and periodical appearance of terrestrial 
productions were constantly associated with the rising and set- 
ting of certain stars, and to their position as relative to the sun, 
the fundamental term of all comparison, the mind, by a natural 


operatioot connected in thought these tecrestml and celestial 
objects, which were connected in fact ; and applying to them 
a common sign, it gave to the stars and their groups the names 
of the terrestrial objects to which they answered.* 

^* Thus the Ethiopian of Thebes named stars of inundatiout 
or aquarius, those under which the Nile began to overflow; 
stars of the ox or bull, those under which he began to plough; 
fltars of the lion, those. under which that animal, driven from the 
desert by thirst, appeared on the banks of the Nile ; stars of the 
sheaf or of the harvest virgin, those of the reaping season ; stars 
of the lamb, stars of the kids, those under which these precious 
animals were brought forth : and thus was resolved the first 
part of the difficulty. 

** Moreover, man having remarked, in the beings which sur- 
rounded him, certain qualities distinctive and peculiar to each 
species, and having thence derived a name by which to desig- 
nate them, he found in the same source an ingenious mode of 
generalizing his ideas ; and transferring the name already in- 
vented to everything which bore any resemblance or analogy, 
he enriched lus language with a perpetual round of metaphors. 

'* Thus the same Ethiopian, having observed that the return 
of the inundation always corresponded with the rising of a beau- 
tiful star which appeared toward the source of the Nile, and 
seemed to warn the husbandman against the coming waters, he 
compared this action to that of the animal who, by his barking, 
gives notice of danger, and he called this star the dog, the barker 
(Sirius). In the same manner he named the stars of the crab 
those where the sun, having arrived at the tropic, retreated by 
a slow retrograde motion like the crab or canj^er. He named 
stars of the wild goat, or Capricorn, those where the sun, having 
reached the highest point in his annuary tract, rests at the sum- 
mit of the horary gnomon, and imitates the goat, who delights 
to climb the summit of the rocka. He named stars of the bal- 
ance, or libra, those where the days and nights, being equal, 
seemed in equilibrium like that instrument ; and stars of the 
scorpion, those where certain periodical winds bring vapors, 
burning like the venom of the scorpion. In the same manner 

• " The ancients," says Maimonides, " directing all their attention to 
agriculture^ gave to the stars names derived from their occupation dn 
ring the year." (More Neb—., pars 6.) 


he called by the name of rings and serpents the figured traces 
of the orbits of the stars and planets : and such was the general 
mode of naming* all the stars, and even the planets, taken by 
groups or as individuals, according to their relations with hus- 
bandry and terrestrial objects, and according to the analogies 
which each nation found between them and the objects of its 
particular soil and climate. 

" From this, it appeared that abject and terrestrial beings be- 
came associated with the superior and powerful inhabitants of 
heaven ; and this association became stronger every day by the 
mechanism of language and the constitution of the human mind. 
Men would say, by a natural metaphor, 'The bull spreads over 
the earth the germs of fecundity (in spring) — ^he restores vege- 
tation and plenty ; the lamb (or ram) delivers the skies frqm the 
malevolent genii of winter ; he saves the world from the ser- 
pent (emblem of the humid season), and restores the empire of 
goodness (summer, joyful season). The scorpion pours out his 
poison on the earth, and scatters diseases and death,* etc. : the 
' same of all similar effects. 

'* This language* understood by every one, was attended at 
first with no inconvenience ; but in the course of time, when 
the calendar had been regulated, the people, who had no longer 
any need of observing the heavens, lost sight of the original 
meaning of these expressions, and the allegories remaining in 
common use became a fatal stumbling-block to the understand- 
ing and to reason. Habituated to associate to the symbols the 
ideas of their archetypes, the mind at last confounded them : 
then the same animals, whom fancy had transported to the skies, 
turned again to the earth ; but being thus returned, clothed in 
the livery of the stars, they claimed the stellary attributes, and 
imposed on their own authors. Then it was that the people, 
believing that they saw their gods among them, could pray to 
them with more convenience : they demanded from the ram of 
their flock the influences which might be expected from the 
heavenly ram ; they prayed the scorpion not to pour out his 
venom upon nature ; they revered the crab of the sea, the sca- 
rab of the mire, the fish of the river ; and by a series of corrupt 

• The ancients Lad verbs from the substantives crab, goat, tortoise, as 
the French have at present the verbs serpeuter, coqueter. The mechan- 
iam of all languages is nearly the same. 


Dnt ioseparable analogies, they lost themselves in a labyrinth of 
well-connected absurdities. 

" Such was the origin of that ancient whimsical worship of 
the animals ; such is the train of ideas by which the character 
of the divinity became common to the vilest of brutes, and by 
which was formed that theological system, extremely compre- 
hensive, complicated, and learned, which, rising on the borders 
of the Nile, propagated from country to country by commerce, 
war, and conquest, overspread the whole of the ancient world, 
and which, modified by time, circumstances, and prejudices, is 
still seen entire among a hundred nations, and remains as the 
essential and secret basis of the theology of those even who de- 
spise and reject it.'' 

Some murmurs at these wor^s being heard from various 
groups — " Yes," continued the orator, " hence arose, for in- 
stance, among you, nations of Africa, the adoration of your 
fetiches, plants, animals, pebbles, pieces of wood, before which 
your ancestors would not have had the folly to bow, if they had 
not seen in them talismans endowed with the virtue of the stars.* 
Here, ye nations of Tartary ! is the origin of your marmosets, 
and of all that train of animals with which your chamans orna- 

* The ancient astrologers, says the most learned of the Jews (Mai. 
monides), having consecrated to each planet a color, an animal, a tree, 
a metal, a fruit, a plant, formed from them all a^ figure or representation 
of the star ; taking care to select for the purpose a proper moment, a 
fortunate day^ such as the conjunction, or some other farorable aspect. 
They conceived that by their (magic) ceremonies they could introduce 
into those figures or idols the influences of the superior beings after 
which they were modelled. These were the idols that the Kaldean Sa- 
beans adored ; and in the performance of their worship they were obliged 
to be dressed in the proper color .... Thus the astrologers, by their 
practices, introduced idolatry, desirous of being regarded as the dis- 
pensers of the favors of Heaven j and as agriculture was the sole em« 
ployment of the ancients, they succeeded in persuading them that the 
rain and other blessings of the seasons were at their disposal. Thus, 
the whole art of agriculture was exercised by rules of astrology, and the 
priests made talismans or charms which were to drive away locusts, 
flies, etc. (See Maimonides, More Nebucfaim, pars III., c. 9.) 

" The priests of Egypt, Persia, India, etc., pretended to bind the gods 
to their idols, and to make them descend from heaven at their pleasure. 
They threatened the sun and moon to reveal the secret mysteries, to 
shake the heavens,*' etc. (Euseb Proepar. Evang., p. 198, and Jambli- 
cus, de Mysleriis iEgypt.) 


znent tbeir magical robes. This is the origin of those figures 
of birds and of snakes which savage nations imprint upon their 
skins with sacred and mysterious ceremonies. Ye inhabitants 
of India ! in vain you cover yourselves with the veil of mys- 
tery : the hawk of your god Vichenou is but one of the thou- 
sand emblems of the sun in Egypt ; and your incarnations of a 
god in the fish, the boar, the hon, the tortoise, and all his mon- 
strous adventures, are only the metamorphoses of the sun, who, 
passing through the signs of the twelve animals, was apposed 
to assume their figures, and* perform their astronpmical func- 
tions.* People of Japan ! your bull, which breaks the mun- 
dane egg, is only the bull of the zodiac, which in former times 
opened the seasons, the age of creation, the vernal equinox. It 
is the same bull Apis which Egypt adored, and which your 
ancestors, O Jewish rabbins ! worshipped in the golden calf. 
This is still your bull, followers of Zoroaster ! which, sacri- 
ficed in the symbolic mysteries of Mithra, poured out his blood 
which fertilized the earth. And, ye Christians ! your bull of 
the apocalypse, with his. wings, symbol of the air, has no other 
origin ; and your lamb of God, sacrificed, like the bull of Mith- 
ra, for the salvation of the* world, is only the same sun, in the 
sign of the celestial ram, which, in a later age, opening the 
equinox in his turn, was supposed to deliver the world from 
evil — that is to say, from the constellation of the serpent, from 
that great snake, the parent of winter, the emblem of the 
Ahrimanes or Satan of the Persians, your instructors. Yes, in 
vain does your imprudent zeal consign idolaters to the torments 
of Tartarus which they invented : the whole basis of your sys- 
tem is only the worship of the sun, with whose attributes you 
have decorated your principal personage. It is the sun which, 
under the name of Orus, was barn, like your god, at the winter 
solstice, in the arms of the celestial virgin, and who passed a 
childhood of obscurity, indigence, and want, answering to the 
season of cold and frost. It is he that, under the name of Osi- 
ris, persecuted by Typhon and by the tyrants of the air, was 
.put to death, shut up in a dark tomb, emblem of the hemisphere 
of winter, and afterward, ascending from the inferior zone tow- 

• These are the very words of Jamblicus, de Symbolis ^gyptiorum, 
c. 2., sect, 7. The sun was the grand Proteus, the universal metamor* 


ard the zeoitA of heaven, arose again from the dead trittrnphaot 
over the giants and the angels of destruction* 

'* Ye priests ! who murmur at this relation, you wear his 
emblems all over your bodies : your tonsure is the disk of the 
sun ;* your stole is his zodiac ;f your rosaries are symbols of the 
stars and planets. Ye pontiffs and prelates .' yoiir mitre, your 
crosier, your mantle, are those of Osiris ; and that cross, whose 
mystery you extol without comprehending it, is. the cross of 
Serapis, traced by the hands of Egyptian priests on the plan of 
the figurative world, which, passing through the equinoxes and 
tropics, became the emblem of the future life, and of the resur- 
rection, because it touched the gates of ivory and of hom^ 
through which the soul passed to heaven.*' 

At these words, the doctors of all the groups began to look at 
each other with astonishment ; but no one breaking silence, tha 
orator proceeded : — 

** Three principal causes concur to produce this confusion of 
ideas. First, the figurative expressions under which an infant 
language was obliged to describe the relations of objects ; which 
expressions, passing afterward from a limited to a general sense, 
and from a physical to a moral one, caused, by their ambiguities 
aad synonymes, a great number of mistakes. 

" Thus, it being first said that the sun had surmounted or 
finished twelve animals, it was thought afterward that he had 
killed, fought, conquered them ; and this gave rise to the his- 
torical life of Hereules.t 

** It being said that he regulated the periods of rural labor* 

• " The Arabs," says Herodotus, b. iii., " shave their heads in a cUw 
cle aod about their temples, in imitation, as they pretend, of Bacchus" 
(who is the sun). Jeremiah speaks also of this custom, c. 25, v. 23, 
The tuft of hair which the Mussulmans preserve, is taken also from the 
sun, who was painted by the Egyptians, at the winter solstice as having 
but a single hair on his head. 

t The robes of the goddess of Syria and of Diana of Ephesus, whence 
are borrowed the dress of the priests, have the twelve animals of the 
zodiac painted on them. The rosaries are found upon all the Indian 
idols, erected more than four thousand five hundred years ago, and their 
use in the East ha^ been universal from time immemorial. The crosier 
is precisely the staff of Bootes of Osiris. All the lamas wear the mitre 
or cap in the shape of a cone, which was an emblem of the sun. 

X See Dupuis's work, " Origin of Constellations and Origin of all Wor- 



the seed-time, and the harvest, that he distributed the seasons 
and occupations, that he ran throtigh the climates and ruled the 
earth, etc., he was taken for a legislative king, a conquering 
warrior ; and they framed from this the history of Osiris, of 
Bacchus, and others of that description. 

** Having said that a planet entered into a sign, they made of 
this conjunction a marriage, an adultery, an incest. Having 
said that the planet was hid or buried, when it came back to 
light and ascended to its exaltation, they said it had died, risen 
again, ascended into heaven, etc. 

** A second cause of confusion was the material figures them* 
selves, by which men first painted thoughts, and which, under 
the name of hieroglyphics, or sacred characters, were the first 
invention of the mind. Thus, to give warning of the inunda- 
tion, and of the necessity to guard against it, they painted a 
boat, the ship Argo ; to express the wind, they painted the wing 
of a bird ; to designate the season or the month, they painted 
the bird of passage, the insect, or the animal which made its 
appearance at that epoch ; to describe the winter, they painted 
a hog or serpent, which delight in humid places : and the cora- 
biiAtion of these figures carried the known sense of words and 
phrases.* But as this sense could not be fixed with precision, 

* The reader will doubtless see with pleasure some examples of a&i 
cient hieroglyphics. 

" The Egyptians," says Hor- Apollo, " represent eternity by the figarea 
of the sun and moon. They designate the world by a blue serpent with 
yellow scales (stars : it is the Chinese dragon). If they had to &spresa 
the year, they painted Isis, who is also in their language called Sothisj 
or dogstar — the first of the constellations, by the rising of which the year 
commences. Its inscription at Sais was : ' It is I that rise in the con* 
stellation of the dog.' 

" They also represent the year by a palm-tree, and the month by one 
of its branches ; because it is the nature of this tree to produce a branch 
every month. 

'* They further represent it by a quarter of an acre. " (The acre, divi- 
ded into four, denotes the bissextile period of four years. The abbrevi- 
ation of this figure of a field in four divisions is manifestly the letter ka 
or 7trf^, the seventh in the Samaritan alphabet. In general, the letters 
of the alphabet are merely astronomical hieroglyphics ; and it is for this 
reason that the mode of writing is fi-om right to left, like the march of 
the stars.) They denote a prophet by the image of a dog, because the 
dogstar (Anoubis) by its rising gives notice of the inundation. 

** They represent inundation by a J ion, because it takes place under 


as the number of these figures and their combinations became 
excessive, and overburdened the memory, the immediate con- 
sequence was confusion and false interpretations. Genius af 

that si^; and hence (says Plutarch) , the custom of placing at the 
gates of temples figures of lions spouting water from their mouths. 

« They express God and destiny by a star. They also represent God 
(says Porphyry) by a black stone^ because his nature is dark and ob- 
More. All white things express the celestial and luminous gods ; all cir- 
cular ones the world, the moon, the sun, the orbits ; all bows and cres- 
cents, the moon. Fire and the gods of Olympus, they represent by 
pyramids and obelisks (the name of the sun, Baal, is found in this latter 
word) ; the sun by a cone (the mitre of Osiris) ; the earth by a cylinder 
(which rolls) j the generative power (of the air) by the phallus ; and 
that of the earth by a triangle— emblem of the female organ. (Euseb., 
Fraepar. Evang., p. 98.) 

" Clay (says Jamblicus, de Symbolis, sect. 7, c. 2) denotes matter, the 
generative and nutritive power— everything which receives the warmth 
and fermentation of life. 

*^ A man sitting upon the lotos or nenuphar, represents the moving 
Spirit (the sun) which, in like manner as that plant lives in the water' 
without any communication with clay, exists equally distinct from mat- 
ter, swimming in space, resting on itsrif ; round in all its parts like the 
fruit, leaves, and flowers, of the lotos. Brahma has lotos-eyes (says 
the Chaster Neardisen), to denote his intelligence ; his eye swimming 
over everything, like the flower of the lotos on the waters. A man at 
the helm of a ship (adds Jamblicus) is descriptive of the sun, which 
govern all. And Porphyry tells us that the sun is also represented by a 
roan in a ship resting on a crocodile (the amphibious emblem of air and 

** At Elephantina they worshipped the figure of a man sitting, of a blue 
color, with a ram's head, and a goat's horns encompassmg the disk ; all 
which represented the sun and moon's conjunction in the ram, the blue 
color denoting the power of the moon, at the period of junction, to raise 
water into clouds (apud Euseb., Prsepar. Evang., p. 116). 

" The hawk is an emblem of the sun and light, on account of his rapid 
flight, and his soaring into the highest regions of the air where light 

" A fish is the emblem of aversion, and the hippopotamus of violence, 
because it is said to kill its father and ravish its mother. Hence (says 
Plutarch) the hierogl3rphical inscription of the temple of Sals, where we 
see painted on the vestibule, 1st, a child ; 2d, an old man ; 3d, a hawk ; 
4th, a fish ; and 5th, a hippopotamus : which signify, 1st, entrance into 
life ; 2d, departure ; 3d, god ; 4tfa, hates ; 5th, injustice. (See Isis and 

" The Egyptians (adds he) represent the world by a scarab, because 
%hra insect pushes in a direction* contrary to that in which it proceeds, a 

J 36 ™B KUINS. 

terward having invented tbe more simple art of applying (rigne 
to sounds, of which the number is limited, and painting words^ 
instead of thoughts, alphabetical writing threw into disuse 
hieroglyphical painting ; and its signification, falling daily into 
oblivion, gave rise to a multitude of illusions, ambiguities, and 

** Finally, a third cause of confusion was the civil organiza^ 
tion of ancient states. When the people began to apply them- 
selves to agriculture, the formation of a rural calendar requiring 
a continued series of astronomical observations, it became ne- 
cessary to appoint certain individuals charged with the functions 
of watching the appearance and disappearance of certain stars, 
to foretell the return of the inundation, of certain winds, of tb« 
rainy season, the proper time to sow every kind of grain :. these 
men, on account of their service, were exempt from common 
labor, and the society provided for their maintenance. With 
this provision, and wholly employed in their observation, they 
soon became acquainted with the great phenomena of nature, 
and even learned to penetrate the secret of many of her opera- 
tions. They discovered the movement of the stars and planets ; 
the coincidence of their phases and returns with the productions 

ball containing its eggs, just as the heaven of the fixed stars causes the 
revolution of the sua (the yolk of an egg) in an opposite direction to its 

" They represent the world, also, by the number five, being that of 
the elements, which (says Diodorus) are earth, water, air, fire, and ether, 
or spiritus (they are the same among the Indians) ; and according to 
the mystics, in Macrobius, they are the supreme God, or primum mobile* 
the intelligence or mens born of him, the soul of the world which pro- 
ceeds from him, the celestial spheres and all things terrestrial. Heoce 
(adds Plutarch) the analogy between the Greek pentef five, and parif all. 

" The ass (says he, again) js the emblem of Typhon, because he is 
of a ruddy color like that animal. Now Typhon signifies whatever is of 
a mirey or clayey nature j and in Hebrew I find the three words clay, 
ruddy, and ass, to be formed from the same root, hamr, Jamblicus has 
further told us that clay denoted matter, and he elsewhere adds, that all 
evil and corruption proceeded from matter j which, compared with the 
phrase of Macrobius — all is perishable, liable to change, in the celestial 
sphere, gives us the theory, first physical, then moral, of the system of 
good and evil of the ancients." (See, also, the Memoir conceming the 
zodiac of Dendera, which the learned Dupuis has inserted in the jounal 
entitled Revue Philosophiqae, year 1801.) 


of the earth and the action of vesgetation ; the mediciiial and 
nutritive properties of plants and fruits; the action of the ele- 
ments, and their reciprocal affinities. Now, as there was oo 
otlier method of communicating the knowledge of these discov- 
eries but the laborious one of oral instruction, they transmitted 
it only to their relations and friends, it followed that all science 
and instruction were confined to a few families, who, arrogating 
it to themselves as an exclusive privilege, assumed a professiontd 
distinction, a corporation spirit, fatal to the public welfare. 
This 'continued succession of the same researches and the same 
labors hastened, it is true, the progress of knowledge ; but by 
the mystery which accompanied it, the. people were daily plun* 
ged in deeper shades, and became more superstitious and more 
enslaved. Seeing their fellowrmortals produce certain phenom- 
ena, announce, as at will, eclipses and comets, heal diseases, and 
handle serpents, they thought them in alliance with celestial 
powers ; and to obtain the blessings and avert the evils which 
they expected from above, they took them for mediators and in- 
terpreters : and thus became established in the bosom of every 
state sacrilegious cSrporations of hypocritical and deceitful men, 
who engrossed all the authority ; and the priests, being at once 
astronomers, theologians, naturalists, physicians, magicians, in- 
terpreters of the gods, oracles of men, and rivals of kings, or their 
accomplices, established, under the name of religion, an empire 
of mystery and a monopoly of instruction, which to this day have 
mined every nation " 

Here the priests of all the groups interrupted the orator; and 
with loud cries accused him of impiety, irreligion, blasphemy, 
and endeavored to cut short his discourse ; but the legislator 
observing that this was only an exposition of historical facts, 
which, if false or forged, would be easily refuted ; that hitherto 
the declaration of every opinion had been (reot and without 
this it would be impossible to discover the truth, the orator pro*- 
ceeded : — 

** Now, from all these causes, and from the continual associ- 
ation of ill-assorted ideas, arose a mass of disorders in theology, 
in morals, and in traditions : first, because the animals repre- 
sented the stars, the characters of the animals, their appetites, 
their sympathies, their aversions, passed over to the gods, and 
were supposed to be their actions : thus, the god ichneumon 


138 THE BXmXS* 

made war against the god crocodile ; tbe god wolf liked to eat 
the god sheep ; the god ibis devoured the god serpent ; and the 
Deity became a strange, capriciou«|, and ferocious being, whose 
idea deranged the judgmenti)f man, and corrupted his morals 
and his reason. 

** Again, because in the spirtt of their worship every family, 
every nation, took for its special patron a star or constellation, 
the affections or antipathies of the symbolic animal were trans- 
ferred to its sectaries ; and the partisans of the god dog were 
enemies to those of the god wolf; those who adored the god ox 
abhorred those who eat him ; and religion became the sense- 
less cause of phrensy and superstition.* 

*^ Besides, the names of those animal-stars having, for this 

tfame reason of patronage, been conferred on nations, countries, 

mountains, and rivers, these objects were taken for gods, and 

hence followed a mixture of geographical, historical, and mytho- 

' logical beings, which confounded all traditions. 

" Finally, by the analogy of the actions which were ascribed 
to them, the god-stars having been taken ^r men, for heroes, 
for kings, kings and heroes took, in their turn, the actions of 
gods for models, and by imitation became warriors, conquerors, 
proud, lascivious, indolent, sanguinary; and religion conse- 
crated the crimes of despots, and perverted the principles of gov- 

IV. Fourth system. Worship of two Principles, or Dualism* 

** In the meantime, the astronomical priests, enjoying peace 
and abundance in their temples, made every day new progress 
in the sciences ; and the system of the world unfolding gradu- 
ally to their view, they raised successively various hypotheses, 
as to its agents and effects, which became so many theological 

** The voyages of the maritime nations, and the caravans of 
the nomads of Asia and Africa, having given them a knowledge 
of the earth from the Fortunate islands to Serica, and from the 

* These are Plutarch's own words, who relates that those various wor- 
ships were given by a king of Egypt lo the different towns, to disunite 
and enslave them. (And these kings had been chosen from the castes of 
priests.) See Isis and Osiris. 


Baltic to tlie sources of the Nile, the comparison of the phe* 
oomena of various zones taught them the rotundity of the 
eartht ^nd gave birth to a new theory. Having remarked that 
all the operations of nature, during the annual period, were re- 
ducible to two principal ones, that of producing, and that of de- 
stroying ; that on the greater part of the globe these two opera* 
tions were performed in the intervals of the two equinoxes, that 
is to say, during the six months of summer everything was pro- 
creating and multiplying, and that during i/^inter everything 
languished and almost died; they supposed in Natube two 
contrary powers, which were in a continual state of contention 
and exertion ; and considering the celestial sphere in this view» 
they divided the images which they figured upon it into two 
.halves, or hemispheres, so that the constellations which were 
on the summer heaven formed a direct and superior empire, and 
those if^hich were on the winter heaven composed an antipode 
and inferior empire. Therefore, as the constellations of sum* 
mer accompanied the season of long, warm, and unclouded days, 
and that of fruits and harvests, they were considered as the pow- 
ers of light, fecundity, and creation, and, by a transition from a 
physical to a moral sense, they became genii, angels of science, 
of beneficence, of purity and virtue : and as the constellations 
of winter were connected with long nights and polar fogs', they 
were the genii of darkness, of destruction, of death, and, by 
transition, angels of wickedness, of ignorance, of sin and vice. 
By this arrangement the heaven was divided into two domains, 
two factions : and the analogy of human ideas already opened 
a vast field to the errors of imagination ; but the mistake and the 
illusion were determined, if not occasioned by a particular cir- 

" In the projection of the celestial sphere as traced by the as- 
tronamical priests,f the zodiac and the constellations, disposed 

* Vale's globe and transparent celestial sphere would greatly assist in 
comprehending the references to the earth and the heavens. 

t The ancient priests had three kinds of inheres, which it may be use* 
ful to make known to the reader. . 

" We read in Eubulus/' says Porphyry, "that Zoroaster was the first 
who,, having fixed upon a cavern pleasantly situated in the mountains ad- 
jacent to Persia, formed the idea of consecrating it to Mithra (the stm)^ 
creator and father of aU things ; to say, having made in this cav« 


in circular order, presented their halves in diametrical opposi- 
tion : the hemisphere of winter, antipode of that of summer, 
was adverse, contrary, opposed to it» By a continual metaphor, 

em several geometrical divisions, representing the seasons and the ele« 
ments, he imitated on a small scale the order and disposition of the wii« 
verse by Mithra. After Zoroaster, it became a custom to consecrate 
caverns for the celebration of mysteries ! so that, in like manner as tem- 
ples were dedicated to celestial gods, rural altars to heVoesand terrestrial 
deities, subterranean abodes to infernal (inferior) deities, so caverns and 
grottoes were consecrated to the world, the universe, and the nymphs ; 
and hence Pythagoras and Plato borrowed the idea of calling the world 
a cavern, a cave. (Porph., antro Nympharum.) 

" Such was the first projection of a sphere in relief; and though the 
Persians give the honor of the invention to Zoroaster, it is doubtless due 
to the Egyptians ; for we may suppose, from this projection being the. 
most simple, that it was the most ancient : the caverns of Thebes, full 
of similar pictures, tend to strengthen this opinion." 

The following was the second projection : " The prophets or hiero- 
fdiants of the Egyptians," says Bishop Synnesius, who had been initiated 
in the mysteries, ** do not permit the common workmen to form idols or 
images of the gods ; but they descend themselves into the sacred caves, 
where they have concealed coffers containing certain spheres, upon 
which they construct those images secretly, and without the knowledge 
of the people, who despise simple and natural things, and wish for 
prodigies and fables." (Synn., in Calvit.) That is, the ancient priests 
had airmilary spheres, like ours; and this passage, which so well 
agrees with that of Chceremon, gives us the key to all their theological 

Lastly, they had flat models of a very complicated nature, having ev- 
ery fictitious division of decan and subdecan, with the hierogl3rphic indi- 
cations of their influence. Kirker has given us a copy of one of them in 
his Egyptian ^dipus, and Gebeh'n, a figured fragment in his book of the 
calendar (under the name of Egyptian Zodiac). " The ancient Egyp- 
tians," says the astrologer Julius Firmicus (Astron., lib. li., c. iv., and 
lib. iv., c. zvi.), '< divide each sign of the zodiac into three sections ; and 
each section was under the direction of an imaginary being, whom they 
called decan, or chief of ten : so that there were three decans in a 
month, and thirty-six in a year. Now, these decans, who were also called 
gods (theoi), regulated the destinies of mankind ; and they were placed 
particularly in certain stars. They afterward imagined in every ten three 
other gods, whom they called Arbiters ; so that there were nine for ev- 
ery month ; and these were farther divided into an infinite number of 
powers," (The Persians and Indians made their spheres on a similar 
plan ; and if a picture thereof were to be drawn from a description given 
by Scaliger at the end of Afanilius, we should find in it a precise defini- 
tion of their hieroglyphics, for every article forms one.) 

THB RUIK8* 141 

these tvords acquired a moral sense ; and tbe adverse genii» or 
angels, became revolted enemies. From that moment all the 
astronomical history of the constellations was changed into a 
political history; the heavens became a human state, where 
things happened as on the earth. Now, as the earthly states, 
the greater part despotic, had already their monarchs, and as 
the sun was apparently the monarch of the skies, tbe summer 
hemisphere,* empire of tight, and its constellations, a people 
of white angels, had for king, an enlightened god, a creator in- 
telligent and good. And as every rebel (action must have its 
chief, the heaven of winter, the subterranean enipire of darkness 
and wo, and its stars, a people of black angels, giants, or demons, 
had for their chief a malignant genius, whose character was ap- 
plied by difTerent people to the constellation which to them was 
the most remarkable. In Egypt, it was primitively the scor- 
pion, first zodiacal sign after libra, and for a long time chief of 
the winter signs ; then it was the bear, or polar ass, called ty- 
phon,f that is to say, deluge, on account of the rains which 
deluge the earth during the dominion of that constellation. At 
a later period in Persia,} it was the serpent who, under the 

* It was for tbis reason the Persians always wrote the name of Ahrim- 
anes invertedi thus : 'Sdmnuuqy 

t Typhon, pronounced toophon by the Greeks, is precisely the touphan 
of the Arabs, which signifies deluge : and all these deluges in mythology 
are nothing more than winter and the rains, or the overflowing of the 
Nile ; as the pretended conflagrations that are to destroy the world are 
simply the summer season. And it is for this reason that Aristotle (De 
Meteorisj Ub. i., c. liv.) says that the winter of the great cyclic year is 
a deluge, and its summer a conflagration. " The Egyptians," says Por- 
phyry, " employ every year a talisman in remembrance of the world j at 
the summer solstice they mark their houses, flocks, and trees, with red, 
supposing that on that day the whole world had been set on fire. It was 
also at the same period that they celebrated the Pyrrhic or fire dance." 
(And this illustrates the origin of purification by fire and water ; for hav- 
tog denominated the tropic of Cancer, " Gate of heaven and of heat or 
celestial fire," and that of Capricorn, " Gate of deluge or of water," it was 
imagined that the spirits or souls who passed through these gates, in their 
way to and from heaven, were scorched or bathed j hence the baptism 
of Mithra, and the passage through the flames, observed throughout the 
East long before Moses.) 

{ That is, when the ram became the equinoctial sign, or rather when 
the alteration of the skies showed that it was no longer the bull. 

143 THE I^UINS. 

name of AhrimaDes, formed the basis of the system of Zoroaster : 
and it is the same, O, Christians aad Jews ! that has become 
your serpent of £ve (the celestial virgin), and that of the cross* 
in both cases, emblem of Satan, the enemy and great adversary 
of the ancient of days, sung by Daniel. 

^* In Syria, it was the hog or wild boar enemy of Adonis, be- 
cause, in that country, the functions of the northern bear were 
performed by the animal whose inclination for mire and dirt 
was emblematic of winter ; and this is the reason, followers of 
Moses and of Mahomet! that you hold him in horror, in imi- 
tation of the priests of Memphis and Baalkek, who detested him. 
as the murderer of tbeir God, the sun. This likewise, O In- 
dians ] is the type of your Chib-en, who was formerly the Pluto 
of your brethren the Romans and Greeks: in like manner, your 
Brahma, God the creator, is only the Persian Ormuzd and the 
Egyptian Osiris, whose very name expresses creative power, 
producer of forms. And these gods received a worship analo- 
gous to their attributes, real or imaginary, which worship was 
divided into two branches, according to their characters. The 
good god receives a worship of love and joy, from which are 
derived all religious acts of gay ety,*' such as festivals, dances, 
banquets, oiferings of flowers, milk, honey, perfumes, in a 
word, everything grateful to the senses and to the soul. The 
evil god, on the contrary, received a worship of fear and pain, 
whence originated all religious acts of the gloomy 6ort,f tears, 
desolation, mourning, abstinence, bloody otfeTings, and cruel 

* All the ancient festivals respecting the return and exaltation of the 
sun were of this description ; hence the hilaria of the Roman calendar at 
the passage (pascha) of the vernal equinox. The dances were imitations 
of the march of the planets. Those of the Dervises still represent it to 
this day. 

t " Sacrifices of blood," says Porphyry, " were only offered to demons 
and evil genii, to avert their wrath. Demons are fond of blood, humidityi 
stench.*' (Apud Euseb., Prcep. Evang., p. 1, 73.) 

" The Egyptians," says Plutarch, " only offer bloody victims to Ty- 
phon. They sacrifice to him a red ox ; and the victim is held in abhor* 
rence, and loaded with all the sins of the people (the goat of Moses)." 
See De I side et Osiride. 

Strabo says, speaking of Moses and the Jews, " Circumcision and the 
prohibition of certain kinds of meat sprung from superstition." And I 


** Hence arose that distioctioo of terreBtrial beiogs into pure 
snd impure, sacred aDd abomiDable, accordiDg as their species 
were of the Dumber of the constellations of one of these two 
gods, and made part of his domaio ; and this produced on the 
one hand the superstitions concerning pollutions and purifica- 
tions, and on the other the pretended efficacious virtues of amu- 
lets and talismans. 

** You conceive now,'' continued the orator, addressing himself 
to the Indians, Persians^ Jews, Christians, and Mussulmans — 
'* you conceive the origin of those ideas of battles and rebellions, 
which equally abound in all your mythologies. You see what 
is meant by white and black angels ; your cherubim and sera- 
phim, with heads of eagles, of lions, and of bulls ; your deus, 
devils, or demons, with horns of goats and tails of serpents ; 
your thrones and dominions, ranged in seven orders or grada- 
tions, like the seven spheres of the planets ; all beings acting 
the same parts, and endowed with the same attributes, in the 
vedas, bibles, or zend-avestas, whether they have for chiefs Or- 
muzd or Brahma, Typhon or Chiven, Michael or Satan; whether 
they appear under the forms of giants with a hundred arms and 
feet of serpents, or that of gods metamorphosed into lions, storks, 
bulls, or cats, as in the sacred fables of the Greeks and Egyp- 
tians. You perceive the successive filiation of these ideas, and 
how, in proportion to their remoteness from their source, and 
as the minds of men became refined, their gross forms have been 
polished, and rendered less disgusting. 

** But, in the same manner as you have seen the system of 
two opposite principles or gods arise from that of symbols and 
interwoven ipto its texture, your attention shall now be called 
to a new system which has grown out of this, and to which this 
has served in its turn as a basis and support. 

V. Mmal and Mystical Wbrshijpt or System of a Future State* 

** Indeed, when the vulgar heard speak of a new heaven and 
another world, they soon gave a body to these fictions : they 

observe ) respecting the ceremony of circuracision, that its object was to 
take from the symbol of Osiris (Phallus) the pretended obstacle to fecon- 
dity ; an obstacle which bore the seal of Typhon, " whose nature," says 
Plutarch, " is made up of all that hinders, opposes, or obstructs." 

144 THE RUINEt* 

erected therein a real theatre of action, and their notions of as- 
tronomy and geqgrapfay served to strengthen, if not to oViginate 
this illusion. 

** On the one hand, the Phenician navigators who passed the 
pillars of Hercules to fetch the tin of Thule, and the amber of 
the Baltic, related that at the extremity of the world, the end 
of the ocean (the Mediterranean), where the sun sets for the 
countries of Asia, were the fortunate islands, the abode of eter- 
nal spring, and beyond were the Hyperborean regions, placed 
under the earth (relatively to the tropics), where reigned an 
eternal night.^ From these stories misunderstood, and no 
doubt confusedly related, the imagination of the people com- 
posed the Elysian fields.f regions of delight, placed in a world 
below, having their heaven, their sun, and their stars, and Tar- 
tarus, a place of darkness, humidify, mire, and frost. Now, as 
man, inquisitive of that which he knows not, and desirous of 
protracting his existence, had already interrogated himself con- 
cerning what was to become of him after his death, as he had 
early reasoned on the principle of life which animates his body, 
and which leaves it without deforming it, and as he had im- 
agined airy substances, phantoms, and shades, he fondly be- 
lieved that he should continue, in the subterranean world, that 
life which it was too painful for him to lose ; and these lower 
regions seemed commodious for the reception of the beloved 
objects which he could not willingly resign. 

" On the other hand, the astrological and geological priests 
told such stories and made such descriptions of their heaven, as 
accorded perfectly well with these fictions. Having, in their 
metaphorical language, called the equinoxes and solstices the 
gates of heaven, the entrance of the seasons, they explained the 
terrestrial phenomena by saying, that ' through the gate of horn 
(first the bull, afterward the ram) and through the gate of can- 
cer descended the viviiying fires which give life to vegetation io 
the spring, and the aqueous spirits which bring, at the solstice, 
the inundation of the Nile : that through the gate of ivory 
(libra, formerly Sagittarius or the bow) and by that of Capricorn 
or the urn, the emanations or influences of the heavens returned 

• Nights of six months. 

t Aliz, in the Phenician or Hebrew language, signifies dancing and re- 

THE RUfNS. i45 

to their eoarce, and leascended to their origin f and the milky- 
way, which passed through these gates of the solstices, seemed 
to be placed there to serve them as a road or vehicle : besides, 
in their atlas, the celestial scene presented a river (the Nile, 
designated by the windings of the hydra), a boat (the ship Ar- 
go), and the dog Syrius, both relative to this river, whose inun- 
dation they foretold. These circumstances, added to the pre- 
ceding, and still further explaining them, increased their proba- 
bility, and to arrive at Tartarus or Elysium, souls were obliged 
to cross the rivers Styx and Acheron in the boat of the ferry- 
man Caron, and to pass through the gates of horn or ivory, 
guarded by the dog Cerberus. Finally, these inventions were 
applied to a civil use, and thence received a further consist- 

" Having remarked that, in their burning climate, the putre- 
faction of dead bodies was a cause of pestilential diseases, the 
Egyptians, in many of their towns, had adopted the practice of 
burying their dead beyond the limits of the inhabited countiy, 
in the desert of the West. To go there, it was necessary to 
pass the channels of the river, and consequently to be received 
into a boat, and pay something to the ferryman, without which 
the body, deprived of sepulture, must have been the prey of 
wild beasts. This custom suggested to the civil and religious 
legislators the meanis of a powerful influence on manners ; and, 
addressing uncultivated and ferocious men with the motives of 
filial piety and a reverence for the dead, they established, as a 
necessary condition, their undergoing a previous trial, which 
should decide whether the deceased merited to be admitted to 
the rank of the family in the black city. Such an idea accorded 
too well with all the others not to be incorporated with them 6 
,the people soon adopted it, and hell had its Minos and its Khad- 
amanthus, with the wand, the bench, the ushers, and the urn, 
as in the earthly and civil state. It was then that God became 
a moral and political being, a social legislator, so much the 
more formidable, as this supreme legislator, this final judge, 
was inaccessible and invisible : then it was that this fabulous 
and mythological world, composed of such odd materials and 
disjointed members, became a place of punishments and re- 
wards, where diviire justice was supposed to correct what was 
vicious and erroneous in the judgment of men ; and this spirit- 

146 THB AUUf9. 

ual aod mystical system acquired the more credit, as it took 
possession of man by ail his natural inclinations : the oppressed 
found in it the hope of indemnity, and the consolation of future 
vengeance ; the oppressor, expecting by rich offerings to pur- 
chase his impunity, formed out of the errors of the vulgar an 
additional weapon of oppression ; the chiefs of nations, the kings 
and priests, found in this a new instrument of domination by the 
privilege which they reserved to themselves of distributing the 
favors and punishments of the great judge, according to the 
merit or demerit of actions, which they took care to character- 
ize as best suited their system. 

** This, then, is the manner in which an invisible and imagin- 
aty world has been introduced into the real and visible one ; 
this is the origin of those regions of pleasure and pain, of which 
you Persians have made your regenerated earth, your city .of 
resurrection placed under the equator, with this singular attri- 
bute, that in it the blessed cast no shade.* Of these materials, 

* There is on this subject a pasMige in Plutarch so interesting and ex- 
planatory of the whole of this system, that we shall cite it entire. Hav- 
ing observed that the theory of good and evil had at all times occupied 
the attention of naturalists and theologians, he adds : ** Many suppose 
there are two gods of opposite inclinations— one delighting in good, the 
other in evil. The first of these is called particularly hy the name of 
God, the second hy that of Genius or Demon. Zoroaster has denomin- 
ated them Oromaze and Ahrimanes, and has said that of whatever falls 
tmder the cognizance of our senses, light is the best representative of the 
one^ and darkness and ignorance of the other. He adds, that Mithra is 
an intermediate being, and it is for this reason that the Persians call 
Mithra the mediator or intercessor. Each of these gods has distinct 
]dants and animals consecrated to him ; for instance, dogs, birds, and 
hedgehogs, belong to the good geniu|f and all aquatic animals to the 
evil one. 

" The Persians also say that Oromaze was bom or formed out of the 
purest light ; Ahrimanes, on the contrary, out of the thickest darkness ; 
that Oromaze made six gods as good as hinfSelf, and Ahrimanes opposed 
to them six wicked ones ; that afterward Oromaze trebled himself (Her* 
mes tris-megistus), and removed to a distance as remote from the earth i 
that he there formed stars, and, among others,' SyriuSi which he placed 
in the heavens as a guard and sentinel. He made also twenty-four other 
gods, whom he enclosed in an egg ; hut Ahrimanes created an equal 
number who cracked the egg, and from that moment good and evil were 
mixed (in the miverse) . But Ahrimanes is one day to be conquered, and 
the earth to be made equal and smooth, that all men may live happy. 

" Theopompus adds, from the books of the magi, that one of these 

Jews ttd Chrisdans, duciples of tbe Persians, have yoa fonned 
foui lerusalem of the apocalypse, your paradise, your heaTeD« 
copiea in an its parts from the astrological heaven of Hermes : 
and your hell, ye Mussulmans ! your bottomless pit, surmount- 
ed by a bridge, your balance for weighing souls and their works, 
your last judgment by the angels Monkir and Nekir, are like* 
wise modeUed from the myst^ous ceremonies of the cave of 
Mythra ;* and your heaven differs not in the least from that of 
Osiris, of Ormuzd, and of Brahma. 

gods reigns ia turn every three thousand years, during which the other 
Is kept in subjection ; that they afterward contend with equal weapons 
during the same space of time, but that in the end the evil Genius will 
fiill (never to rise again) . Then men will become happy, and shall have 
no "shadow. But the god who meditates all these things reclfaies at pre» 
€lit in repose, waitinff to meet them. (De Iside St Osiride.)'' 

The alleicory is evident through, the whole of this passage. The egg 
is the sphere of fixed stars, the world ; the six gods of Oromaze are the 
six signs of summer ; those of Ahrimanes the six signs of winter. The 
forty-eight other gods are the forty-eight constellations of the ancient 
sphere, divided equally between Ahrimanes and Oromaze. The oilics 
of Syrins, as guard and sentinel, tdls us that the origin of theie Ideas 
was Egyptian. Finally, the expression that the earth is to become equsi 
and smooth, and that the bodies of the happy shall cast no shadow, 
proves that the equator was considered as their true paradise. 

* In the factitious caves which priests everywhere constructed, they 
celebrated mysteries which consisted, says Origen against Celsus, in inw 
itating the motion of the stars, the planets, and the heavens. The ini- 
tiated took the name of constellations, and assumed the figure of animals. 
One was a lion, another a raven, and a third a ram. Hence the use of 
masks in the first representation of the drama. (See Antiq. devoilesi 
vot 11., p. 244.) In the mysteries of Ceres, the chief in the procession 
called himself the creator ; the torch-bearer was denominated tne sun ; 
the person nearest to the altar, the moon ; the herald, or deacon, Me»> 
cury. In Egypt, there was a festival in which men and women repre- 
sented the year, the century, the seasons, the divisions of the day, and 
they followed the procession of Bacchus. (Athen. lib. v., c. 7.) In the 
cave of Mithra was a ladder with seven steps, representing ihe seven 
spheres of the planets, by means of which souls ascended and descended 
This is precisely the ladder in Jacob's vision ; which shows that al 
that epoch, the whole system was '^rmed. There is in the royal library 
a superb volume of pictures of th* Indian gods, in which the ladder is 
represented with the souls of men ascending it. 

See Bailly's Ancient Astronomy, where our assertions respecting the 
knowledge of the priests are fttlly proved. 


Vf. Sixffi Sy$Um,^Tke Animated Worlds or Worship of the 
Universe under divers Emblems, 

«* While the nations were wandering in the dark labyrinth of 
mythology and fables, the physical priests, pursuing their stud- 
ies and inquiries into the order and disposition of the universe, 
eame to new conclu^ons and formed new systems concerning 
powers and first causes. 

«LLong confined to simple appearances, they saw nothing in 
the movement of the stars but an unknown play of luminous 
bodies rolling round the earth, which they believed the central 
point of all the spheres ; but as soon as they discovered the ro- 
tundity of our planet, the consequences of this first fact led them 
to new considerations, and, from induction to induction, they 
rose to the highest conceptions in astronomy and physics. 

'* Indeed, after having conceived this luminous idea, that the 
terrestrial globe is a little circle inscribed in the greater circle 
of the heavens, the theory of concentric circles served naturally 
in their hypothesis to determine the unknown circle of the ter- 
restrial globe by certain known points of the celestial circle ; 
and the measurement of one or more degrees of the meridian 
gave with precision the whole circumference. Then, taking 
for a compass the known diameter of the earth, some fortunate 
genius applied it with a bold hand to the boundless orbits of the 
heavens ; and man, the inhabitant of a grain of sand, embracing 
the infinite distances of the stars, launched into the immensity 
of space and the eternity of time : there he is presented with a 
new order of the universe, of which the atom-globe which he 
inhabited appeared no longer to be the centre : this important 
post was reserved to the enormous mass of the sun, and that 
body became the flaming pivot of eight surrounding spheres, 
whose movements were henceforth subjected to precise calcu- 

'* It was already a great effort of the human mind to have 
undertaken to determine the disposition and order of the great 
engines of nature ; but not stopping there, it still endeavored to 
develop the mechanism, and discover the origin and the in- 
stinctive principle. Hence, engaged in the abstract and meta- 
physical nature of motion and its first cause, of the inherent or 

THE BUmS. 149 

incideiital properties of matter, ha sQceeflshre forms and its ex- 
tension—that is to say, of time and space unbounded — ^the phys- 
ieal theologians lost themselves in a chaos of subtile reasoning 
and scholastic controversy. 

** In the £rst place, the action of the sun on terrestrial bodies 
teaching them to regard his substance as a^ pure and elementary 
fire, they made it the focus and reservoir «f an ocean of igneous 
and luminous fluid, which, under the name of ether, filled the 
universe and nourished all beings. Afterward, having discov- 
ered, by a physical and attentive analysis, this same fire, or an- 
other perfectly resembling it, in the composition of all bodies, 
and having perceived it to be the essential agent of that sponta* 
neous movement which is called life in animals and vegetation 
in plants, they conceived the mechanism and harmony of the 
universe as of a homogeneous whole, of one identical body, 
whose parts, though distant, had nevertheless an intimate rela- 
tion ; and the world was a living being, animated by the organic 
circulation of an igneous and even electrical fluid,* which, by a 
term of comparison borrowed first from men and animals, had 
the sun for a heart or focus. f 

'* From this time, the physical theologians seem to have di- 
vided into several classes ; one class, grounding itself on these 
principles resulting from observation, * that nothing can be an- 
nihilated in the world ; that the elements are indestructible ; 
that they change their combinations, but not their nature; that 
the life and death of beings are but the different modifications 

* The more I consider what the ancients understood by ether and 
spirit, and what the Indians call akache, the stronger do I find the anal- 
ogy between it and the electrical fluid: A luminous fluid, principle of 
warmth and motion, pervading the universe, forming the matter of the 
stars, having small round particles, which, insinuating themselves into 
bodies, fill them by dilating itself, be their extent what it may : what 
can more strongly resemble electricity ? 

t Natural philosophers, says Macrobius, call the sua the heart of the 
world (c. 20, Som. Scip.) The Egyptians, says Plutarch, call the east 
the face, the north the right side, and the south the left of the world 
(because there the heart is placed). They continually compare the 
universe to a man, and hence the celebrated Microcosm of the alchym* 
ists. We ohserve, by the by^ that the alchymists, cabalists, iireema* 
sons, magnetizers, martinists, and all other such visionaries, are but the 
enlng disciples of this ancient school. Consult, likewise, the Pythag»> 
Yean Ocellus Lucanus, and the JKdipus JEgyptiacos of Kirker, t. II ., p. 205. 



•rtkemnettmns; dmC nittter itielf ptfMSWS properties which 
give fwt to all its modes of existenoe ; that the world is etemalt 
•r uobniited in space and duration ;* said *that the whole uni- 
veiae was Qod ;* and, according to them, God was a beings 
eflect and cause, agent and patient, moving principle and thiag 
moved, having for laws the invarisUe properties that constitute 
ftlafikf : and this class conveyed their idea bj the embiem of 
Pan (the Oreat Whole), or of J'upiter, with a forehead of stars, 
body of planets, and feet of animals, or of the orphic egg, whose 
yolk, sus pen ded in the centra of a liquid surrounded by a vault, 
leprcsented the globe of the sun swimming in ether in the midst 
of the vauh of heaven :* sometimes by a great round serpent, 
representing the heavens when they placed the moving princi- 
ple, and, for that reason, of an asure color, studded with golden 
\ (the stsis) devouring his tail — that is, folding and unfold- 
; hinsself eternally like the revolutions of the spheres : some- 
I by that of a man, having his feet joined together and tied, 
to signify inuttutable existence ; wrapped in a cloak of aU col- 
eia, like the fiice of nature, and bearing on his head a golden 
sphere, emblem of the sphere of stars : or by that of another 
asan, aometimes seated on the flower of the lotos borae on the 
abyss of waters, sometimes lying on a pile of twelve cushions, 
denoting the twelve celestial signs. And here, Indians, Jap- 
anese, Siamese, 'Hbetans, and Chinese, is the theology which, 
founded by the Egyptians and transmitted to you, is preserved 
in the pictures which you compose of Brahma, of Beddou, of 
Sommonaoodom, of Omito. This, ye Hebrews and Christians, 
ia likewise the opinion oi which yon have preserved a part in 

* Tlus compailsoa with the yolk of an egg refers, 1st, to its ronnd and 
yiODW figvre ; Sd, to its ceatnl situatioa ; 3d, to tke germ or principle 
•f life «oataiiMd ia the yolk. May not the ond fonn aUade to the el- 
lipsis of the otbits T I am incfined to this opinion. The word orphU 
efos a flvther okservatkNi. Macrobios says (Som. Sdp., c. 14, and 
e. 90) that the ami is the hrain of the universe^ and that it is from anal- 
•gy that the human skvU is roond, like the planet, the seat of intelli- 
gence : sow, the word mrpk (by am) signifies, in Hebrew, the brain and 
Hs seat (cerrix). Orpheus, then, is the sam« as Bedou or Baites ; and 
the Boaaes are those very Orphics represented by Plotarch as quackS| 
who ate no aieat, sold talismans, stones, etc., and deceived Hot only in- 
dividuals but the govvramcnts. (See a leaned Memoir of Freret, sar 
las (^phiques, Acad, dee Inscrip., tom. zzm., 4to.) 


jour God moving on the face of the wsften, by an allnsion t» 
the wind, which, at the beginning of the worid^that is» the de« 
parture of the spheree from the sign of cancer-^-annoaBced the 
inandation of the Nile, and seemed to prepare the ereation. 

VII. Seventh System. Worship of the Soul of ike Woklo, thai 
is to say, the Element ofFire^ vital Principle of the Universe* 

** Bat others, disgusted at the idea of a being at once effect 
and cause, agent and patient, and uniting contrary natures in 
the same nature, distinguished the moving principle from the 
thing moved ; and premising that matter in itself was inert, they 
pretended that its properties were communicated to it by a dis- 
tinct agent, of which it was itself only the cover or the case. 
This agent was called by some the igneous principle, known to 
be the author of all motion ; by others it was supposed to be 
the fluid called ether, which was thought more active and sub- 
tile ; and, as in animals the vital and moving principle was called 
ft soul, a spirit, and as they reasoned constantly by comparisons, 
especially those drawn from human beings, they gave to the 
moving principle of the universe the name of soul, intelligence, 
spirit ; and God was the vital spirit which extended through all 
beings and animated the vast body of the world. And this class 
eonveyed their idea sometimes by You-piter, essence of motion 
and animation, principle of existence, or rather existence itself; 
sometimes by Vulcan or Phtha, elementary principle of Are, or 
by the altar of Vesta, placed in the centre of her temple, like 
the sun amid the spheres ; sometimes by Kneph, a human fig- 
ure, dressed in dark blue, having in one hand a sceptre and a 
girdle (the zodiac), with a cap of feathers, to express the fuga- 
city of thought, and producing from his mouth the great egg. 

** Now, as a consequence of this system, every being con- 
taining in itself a portion of the igneous and ethereal fluid, com- 
mon and universal mover, and this fluid soul of the world being 
the Divinity, it followed that the souls of all beings were a por^ 
tion of God himself, partaking of all his attributes, that is, being 
a substance indivisible, simple, and immortal ; and hence the 
whole system of the immortality* of the soul, which at first was 

• In the system of the first spiritualists, the soul was not created with 
or at the same time as the body, in order to be inserted in it : it existed 


of the same atoms ; that matter itself possesses properties which 
give rise to all its modes of existence ; that the world is eternal, 
or unlimited in space and duration ;* said * that the whole uni- 
verse was God ;' and, according to them, God was a being, 
effect and cause, agent and patient, moving princij^e and thing 
moved, having for laws the invariable properties that constitute 
fatalt^ : and this class conveyed their idea by the emblem of 
Pan (the Great Whole), or of /upiter, with a forehead of stars, 
body of planets, and feet of animals, or of the orphic egg, whose 
yolk, suspended in the centre of a liquid surrounded by a vault, 
represented the globe of the sun swimming in ether in the midst 
of the vault of heaven :* sometimes by a great round serpent, 
representing the heavens where they pkiced the moving princi- 
ple, and, for that reason, of an azure color, studded with golden 
spots (the stars) devouring his tail^that is, folding and unfold- 
ing himself eternally like the revolutions of the spheres : some- 
times by that of a man, having his feet joined together and tied, 
to signify immutable existence ; wrapped in a cloak of all col- 
ors, like the face of nature, and bearing on his head a golden 
sphere, emblem of the sphere of stars : or by that of another 
man, sometimes seated on the flower of the lotos borne on the 
abyss of waters, sometimes lying on a pile of twelve cushions, 
denoting the twelve celestial signs. And here, Indians, Jap- 
anese, Siamese, Tibetans, and Chinese, is the theology which, 
founded by the Egyptians and transmitted to you, is preserved 
in the pictures which you compose of Brahma, of Beddou, of 
Soramonacodom, of Omito. This, ye Hebrews and Christiams, 
is likewise the opinion of which you have preserved a part in 

• This comparison with the yolk of an egg referS; 1st, to its round and 
yellow figure ; 2d, to its central situation ; 3d, to the germ or principle 
of life contained in the yolk. May not the oval form allude to the el- 
lipsis of the orbits ? I am inclined to this opinion. The word orphie 
offers a farther oksenration. Macrobius says (Som. Scip., c. 14, and 
c 20) that the sun is the brain of the universe^ and that it is from anal- 
ogy that the human skull is round, like the planet; the seat of intelli- 
gence : now, the word cerph (by am) signifies; in Hebrew, the brain and 
its seat (cervix). Orpheus, then, is the same as Bedou or Baites ; and 
the Bonzes are those very Orphics represented by Plutarch as quaokS| 
who ate no meat, sold talismans, stones, etc., and deceived Hot only in- 
dividuals but the governments. (See a learned Memoir of Freret, stti 
les Orphiques, Acad, des Inscrip., torn, zxm., 4to.) 


70ur Qod monng on the face of the wsften, by an allasioD t» 
the wind, whicb, at the beginoiag of the worid--that ia, the de- 
parture df the spheres from the sign of cancer-'-annouBeed the 
inandation of the Nile, and seemed to prepare the ereatioo. 

VII. Seventh System. Worship of the Soul of the Woklo, that 
is to say, the Element of Fire, vital Principle of the Universe. 

** But others, disgusted at the idea of a being at once effect 
and cause, agent and patient, and uniting contrary natures in 
the same nature, distinguished the moving principle from the 
thing moved ; and premising that matter in itself was inert, they 
pretended that its properties were communicated to it by a dis- 
tinct agent, of which it was itself only the cover or the case* 
This agent was called by some the igneous principle, known to 
be the author of all motion ; by others it was supposed to be 
the fluid called ether, which was thought more active and sub- 
tile ; and, as in animals ^e vital and moving principle was called 
ft soul, a spirit, and as they reasoned constantly by comparisons, 
especially those drawn from human beings, they gave to the 
moving principle of the universe the name of soul, intelligence, 
spirit ; and God was the vital spirit which extended through all 
beings and animated the vast body of the world. And this class 
eonveyed their idea sometimes by You-piter, essence of motion 
and animation, principle of existence, or rather existence itself; 
sometimes by Vulcan or Phtha, elementary principle of fire, or 
by the altar of Vesta, placed in the centre of her temple, like 
the sun amid the spheres ; sometimes by Kneph, a human fig- 
ure, dressed in dark blue, having in one hand a sceptre and a 
girdle (the zodiac), with a cap of feathers, to express the fuga- 
city of thought, and producing from his mouth the great egg. 

** Now, as a consequence of this system, eveiy being con- 
taining in itself a portion of the igneous and ethereal fluid, com- 
mon and universal mover, and this fluid soul of the world being 
the Divinity, it followed that the souls of all beings were a por- 
tion of God himself, partaking of all his attributes, that is, being 
a substance indivisible, simple, and immortal ; and hence the 
whole system of the immortality* of the soul, which at first was 

* In the system of the first spiritualists^ the soul was not created with 
or at the same time as the body, in order to be inserted in It : it existed 

]fi2 THB RUINS. 

eternity. Hence also its transmigraUons, known by the name 
of n^eteropoychosis, that ia, the passage of the vital principle 
from one body to another ; an idea which arose from the real 
transmigration of the material elements. And behold, ye In* 

anteriorly and from all eternity. Sach| in a few words, is the doctrine of 
Macrobius on this kead. Om. Scip. Spassim. 

" There exists a luminous, igneous, subtile fluid, which, under the 
name of ether and spiritus, fills the uniTerse ; it is the essential principle 
and agent of motion and life ; it is the deity. When an earthly body is 
to be animated, a small round particle of this fluid gravitates through the 
milky way toward the lunar sphere, where, when it arrives, it unites with 
a grosser air, and becomes fit to associate with matter ; it then enters 
and entirely fills the body, animates it, suffers, grows, increases, and di- 
minishes, with it ; lastly, when the body dies, and its gross elements dis- 
solve, this incormptible particle quits it, and returns to the grand ocean 
of ether, if not retained by its union with lunar air ; it is this air (or gaz) 
which, retaining the shape of the body, becomes a phantom or shade, the 
perfect image of the deceased. The Greeks called this shade the image 
or idol of the soul ; the Pythagoreans, its chariot, its mould ; and the 
rabbinical school, its vehicle, or boat When a man had conducted him^ 
self well in this world, this entire soul, that is, its chariot and ether, as- 
cended to the moon, where a separation took place ; the chariot lived in 
the lunar elysium, and the ether returned to the fixed stars, that is, to 
God ; for (says Macrobius) the heaven of the fixed stars was by many 
called God. (c. 14.) 

" If a man had not lived virtuously, the soul remained on earth to b« 
purified, and wandered to and fro, like the shades of Homer, to whom 
this doctrine must have been known in Asia, three centuries before 
Pherecides and Pythagoras had revived it in Greece. Herodotus upon 
this occasion says, that ^ the whole romance of the soul and its transmi- 
grations was invented by the Egyptians, and propagated in Greece by 
men who pretended to he its authors. I know their names,' adds he, 
' but shall not mention them. (Lib. ii.) Cicero, however, has positively 
informed us that it was Pherecides, master of Pythagoras. (Tuscul., 
lib. i., $ 16.) In Sjrria and in Judea we find a palpable proof of its exist- 
ence, five centuries before Pythagoras, in this phrase of Solomon, where 
he says : ' Who knoweth the spirit of a man, that it goeth upward? I 
said in my heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might 
manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. 
For that which befalleth the sons of men, befalleth beasts; even one 
thing befalleth them : as the one dieth, so dieth the other ; yea, they 
have all one breath, so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast ; 
for all is vanity.' Eccl., c. iii., v. 11." 

And such had been the opinion of Moses, as has been justly observed 
by the translator of Herodotus (Larcher. in his ficst edition, note 389 of 


THB BUUrS. 158 

BondhsBts, Christhun, and Muflsulmttui! whence are 
derived all your opinions on the spirituality of the soul ; be- 
hold what was the source of the dreams of Pythagoras and 
-Plato, your masters, who were themselves but the echoes of 
another, the last sect of visionary philosophers, which we will 
proceed to examine. • 

VIII. Eighth System. TkeWoKLB-MAcninti : Worship of the 
I>end-Ourgo8, or Grand Artificer. 

" Hitherto the theologians, employing themselves in examin- 
ing the fine and subtile substances of ether or the generating 
fire, had not, however, ceased to treat of beings palpable and 
perceptible to the senses, and theology continued to be the the- 
Oiy of physical powers, placed sometimes exclusively in the 
stars, and sometimes disseminated through the universe ; but 
at this period certain superficial minds, losing the chain of ideas 
which had directed them in their profound studies, or ignorant 
of the facts on which they were founded, distorted all the con- 
clusions that flowed from them by the introduction of a strange 
and novel chimera. They pretended that this universe, these 
heavens, these stars, this sun, were only a machine of an ordi- 
nary kind; and, applying to this first hypothesis a comparison 
drawn from the works of art, they raised an edifice of the most 
whimsical sophisms* ' A machine,* said they, * does not 
make itself; it has had an anterior workman, its vexy exbtenee 
proves it. The world is a machine: therefore it had an arti- 

" Here, then, is the demi-ourgos, or grand artificer, consti- 
tuted god autocratical and supreme. In vain the ancient phi- 
losophy objected to this, by saying the artificer himself must 
have had parents and progenitors, and that they only added an- 
other link to the chain by taking eternity from the world and 
giving it to its supposed author. The innovators, not content 
with this first paradoXf passed on to a second ; and, applying to 
their artificer the theoxy of the human understanding, 'they pre- 

book li.), where he says, also, that the immortality of the soul was not 
introduced among the Hebrews till their intercourse with the Assyrians. 
In other respects, the whole Pythagorean system, properly analyzed, ap> 
pears to be merely a system of physics misunderstood. 

IM THB iiuxm. 

Mndad tbat the demi^oiirgos bad fnvied hit mMhine en a plaa 
pre-exiitiDK lo hit imdentaDdiQ^. Now,. as their maitera* the 
Daturalifts, had placed in the regions of the fixed stars the greal 
primam mobile, under the name of intelligence and reason, so 
their mimics, the spintnalists, seizing this idea, applied it to 
their demi-onrgos, and, making it a substance distinct and self- 
existent, they called it mens, or logos (reason, or word). And 
as they likewise admitted the existence of the soul of the world, 
or solar principle, they found themselves obliged to compose 
three ranks or gradations of divine beings, which were, first, the 
demi-ourgos, or working-god ; secondly, the logos, word, or 
reason ; thirdly, the spirit or soul (of the world). And here. 
Christians ! is the romance on which you have founded your 
Trinity ; here is the system which, born a heretic in the tem- 
ples of Egypt, transported a pagan into the schools of Italy and 
Greece, is now found to be catholic and orthodox by the con- 
version of its partisans, the disciples of Pythagoras and Plato, to 

" It is thus that the Divinity, after having been, first, the visi- 
ble and various action of the meteors and elements ; 

'* Afterward, the combined powers of the stars considered in 
their relations to terrestrial beings ; 

** After, these terrestrial beings themselves, by confounding 
the symbols with their archetypes ; 

" Next, the double power of nature in its two principal opera- 
tions of producing and destroying ; 

** Again, the animated world, without distinction of agent and 
patient, of effect and cause ; 

** Finally, the solar principle or the element of fire considered 
as the only mover ; 

** It is thus that the Divinity is become, in the last resort, a 
chimerical and abstract being ; a scholastic subtilfy of substance 
without form, a body without a figure ; a veiy delirium of the 
mind, beyond the power of reason to comprehend. But vainly 
does it seek in this last transformation to elude the senses ; the 
seal of its origin is too deeply imprinted on it to be effaced ; and 
its attributes, all borrowed from the physical attributes of the 
universe, such as. immensity, eternity, indivisibility, incompre- 
hensibility ; or on the nioral affections of man, such as good- 
ness, justice, majesty, etc. ; its names even, all derived from the 

f^jmctl beiags* which irere its tjrpet, and espeei^y ftom die 
tQD, the planets, and the world, . constantly bring to mind, In 
spite of its eomiptors, indelible marks of its real natmne. 

.«< Snch is the chain of ideas which the human mind had al- 
ready run through at an epoch previous to the records of fais« 
tory : and since their continuity pvoTes that they were the pro- 
duce of the same series of studies and labors, we have every 

* When analyzed, all the names of the Deity seem to be derived fgom 
some material object, in which it was supposed to reside. We have given 
many instances ; let us add one more relative to our word god. This is 
the deus of the Latins, which is but the theos of the Greeks. Now, by 
the confession of Plato (in Cratylo), of Macrobius (Saturn., lib. !., chap, 
zxiv.), and of Plutarch (Isis et Osiris), its root is thein, which signifies 
to wander, like planein ; that is to say, it is synonymous with j^anets, 
because (add our authors) both the ancient Greeks and barbarians par- 
ticularly worshipped the planets. I know that such inquiries into ety« 
mologies have been much decried ; but if, as is the case, words are the 
representative signs of ideas, the genealogy of the one becomes thftt of 
the other, and a good etymological dictionary would be the roost perfect 
history of the human understanding. It would only be necessary to ob- 
serve certain precautions in this inqiriry, which have hitherto been neg- 
lected, and particularly to make an exact comparison of the value of the 
letters of the different alphabets. But, to continue our subject, we shall 
add that, in the Phoenician language, the word thah (with ain) signifies 
also to wander, and from it thein seems to be derived : if we sufipose 
deus to be deriyed from the Greek Zeus, a proper name of Youpi-ter, 
having zaw, I live, for its root, its sense will be precisely that of you, 
and will mean soul of the world, igneous principle. Div-us, which only 
signifies genius, god of the second order, appears to me to come from 
the oriental word div for dib, wolf and jackal, one of the emblems of the 
sun. At Thebes (says Macrobius) the sun was painted under the form 
of a wolf, or jackal (for there are no wolves in Egypt). The reason of 
this emblem, doubtless, is, that the jackal, like the cock, announces by 
its cries the rising of the sun ; and this reason is confirmed by the 
analogy of the words lykos, wolf, and lyke, light of the morning, whence 
comes lux. 

Dius, which is to be understood also of the sun, must be derived firom 
dih, a hawk. " The Egyptians," says Porphyry (Euseb., Proep. Evang., 
page 92), "represent the sun under the emblem of a hawk, because 
this bird soaris to the highest regions of air where light abounds." And 
in reality we continually see at Cairo thousands of these birds, hovering 
in the air, whence they descend only to stun us with their shrieks, 
which are like the monosyllable dih ; and here, as in the preceding ex 
ample, we find an analogy between the word dies, day, light, and dins 
god, sun. 

156 ^HS nXJlNS. 

rMson to plaee thm orifpn in "Egypti the eradl« of tbeir Unt 
elements; and their (Nrogrees there ma j have been rapid, be- 
cause the idle curiosity of the physical priests hod no other 
food, in the retirement of the temples, but the enigma of the 
universe always present to their minds; and because, in the po- 
litical districts into which that country was for a long time divi- 
ded, every state had its college of priests, whO| being by turns 
auxiliaries or rivals, hastened by their disputes* the progress of 
science and discovery. 

* A most plausible proof that all these systems were invented in 
Egypt is, that this is the only country where we see a complete body of 
doctrine formed from the remotest antiquity. 

Clemens Alexandrinus has transmitted to us (Stromat.| lib. vi.) a curl* 
ous detail of the forty-two volumes which were borne in the procession 
of Isis. *^ The leader,'' said he, *' or chanter, carries one of the sym- 
bolic instruments of music, and two of the books of Mercury, one con- 
taining hymns of the gods, the other the list of kings. Next to him the 
horoscope (calculator of time) carries a palm and a dial, symbols of as- 
trology ; he must know by heart the four books of Mercury which treat 
of astrology, the first on the order of the planets, the second on the 
risings of the sun and moon, and the last two on the rising and aspect of 
the stars. Then comes the sacred writer, with feathers on his head (like 
Kneph) and a book in his hand, together with ink and a reed to write 
with (as is still the practice among the Arabs). He must be versed in 
hieroglyphics, must understand the description of the universe, the coarse 
of the sun, moon, and planets ; be acquainted with the division of Egypt 
(into thirty-six names), with the course of the Nile, with instruments, 
measures, sacred ornaments, and holy places, etc. Next comes the stole- 
bearer, carrying the cubit of justice or measure of the Nile, and a chalice 
for the libations : ten volumes treat of the sacrifices, hymns, prayers, of- 
ferings, ceremonies, festivals. Lastly arrives the prophet, bearing in his 
bosom, and exposed to view^ a pitcher : he is followed by persons carry- 
ing loaves of bread (as at the marriage of Cana) . This prophet, as pres- 
ident of the mysteries, learns ten (other) sacred volumes concerning the 
laws, the gods, and the discipline of the priests, etc. Now there are in 
all forty-two volumes, thirty-six of which are learned by these persona- 
ges, and the remaining six are reserved for the pastophores ; they treat 
of medicine, the construction of the human body (anatomy), diseases, 
remedies, instruments, etc.'' 

We leave the reader to deduce all the consequences of such an ency- 
clopedia. It was ascribed to Mercury ; but Jamblicus tells us that all 
books composed by the priests were dedicated to that god. who, being a 
genius or decan opening the zodiac, presided over enterprise : he is the . 
Janus of the Romans, the Guianese of the Indians ; and it is remarkable 
that Yanus and Guianese are synonymous. In short, it appears that these 

THE ftUIW5«^ 157 

** There hafipened alreidy on the bovden of the Nikt what 
has since been repeated in every conotiy : as soon as a new 
system was formed, its novelty excited quarrels and schisms ; 
then, gaining credit by persecntion itself, sometimes it effiiced 
antecedent ideas, sometimes it modified and incorporated them; 
then, by the intervention of political revolutions, the aggregation 
of states and the mixture of nations confused all opinions ; and 
the filiation of ideas being lost, theology fell into a chaos, and 
became a mere logogryph of old traditions no longer undei^ 
stood. Religion, having strayed from its object, was now noth- 
ing more than a political engine to conduct the credulous vul- 
gar, and it was used for this purpose, sometimes, by men 
credulous themselves and dupes of their own visions, and some- 
times by bold and energetic spirits in pursuit of great objects of 

IX. Religion of MoseSt or Worship of the Soul of the World 
( Youpiier). 

" Such was the legislator of the Hebrews, who, wishing to 
separate his nation from aU others, and to form a distinct and 
solitary empire, conceived the design of establishing its basis on 
religious prejudices, and of raising around it a sacred rampart 
of opinions and of rites. But in vain did he proscribe the wor- 
ship of the symbols which prevailed in lower Egypt and PhoB- 
nicia ; his god was, nevertheless, an Egyptian god,* invented 
by those priests of whom Moses had been the disciple ; and 
Yahouh,f betrayed by its very name, essence (of beings), and 

books are the source of all that has been transmitted tons by the Greeks 
and Latins in every science, even in alchymy, necromancy, etc. What 
is most to be regretted in their loss is that part which related to the prin* 
ciples of medicine and diet, in which the Egyptians appear to have made 
a considerable progress and useful observations. 

* '' At a certain period,'' says Plutarch (De Islde), " all the Egyptians 
have their animal gods painted. The Thebans are the only people who 
do not employ painters, because they worship a god whose form comes 
not under the senses, and can not be represented." And this is the god 
whom Moses, educated at Heliopolis, adopted ; but the idea was not of 
his invention. 

t Such is the true pronunciation of the Jehovah of the modems, who. 
violate, in this respect, every rule of ctiUcism, since it is evident that the 



bj its.fymbol, the baraiDg^lmsh, is only the aovl of the vorid* 
the moTing principle which the Greeks soon after adopted under 
Che same denomination in their Yoapiter, generating being; 

ancients, particularly the eastern Syrians and Phoenicians, were acquainted 
neither with the j nor the v, borrowed from the Tartars. The subsisting 
usage of the Arabs, which we have re-established here, is confirmed by 
Diodorus, who calls the God of Moses law (lib. i.) ; and law and lahooh 
are manifestly the same word : the identity continues in that of loupiter ; 
but, in Older to render it more complete, we shall demonstrate the signi> 
fication to be the same. 

In Hebrew, that is to say, in one of the dialects of the common lan- 
guage of lower Asia, the word Yahouh is equivalent to our periphrasis. 
He who is, the being that exists ; in other words, The principle of life, 
the merer, or even motion (the universal soul of beings). Now what is 
Jupiter I Let us hear the Greeks and Latins explain their theology : 
" The Egyptians (says Diodorus), after Manetho, priest of Memphis^ 
the Egyptians, assigning names to the five elements, called spirit (or 
ether) Youpiter, on account of the true meaning of that word ; for spirit 
Is the source of life, author of the vital principle in animals ; and for this 
reason they considered him as the father, the generator of beings. For 
the same reason Homer says, ' Father and king of men and gods.' " 
(Diod., lib. i., sect, i.) 

" Theologians,'' says Macrobius, *' consider Youpiter as the soul of 
the world ; hence the words of Virgil : ' Muses, let us begin with You]a- 
ter : the world is full of Youpiter (8omn. Scip., c. xvii.) ;' and in the 
Saturnalia he says, * Jupiter is the sun himself.' It was this also which 
made Virgil say, ' The spirit nourishes the life (of beings), and the soul, 
difitised through the vast members (of the universe), agitates the whole 
mass and forms but one inmiense body.' " 

" loupiter," say the very ancient verses of the Orphic sect, which origi- 
nated in Egypt, verses collected by Onomacritus in the days of Pisistra- 
tus— " loupiter, represented with the thunder in his hand, is the begin, 
ning, origin, end, and middle of all things : a single and universal power, 
he governs all, heaven, earth, fire, water, the elements, day, and night. 
These are what constitute his immense body : his eyes are the sun and 
moon J he is space and eternity : in fine (adds Porphyry), Jupiter is the 
world, the universe, that which constitutes the existence and the life of 
all beings. Now (continues the same author), as philosophers differed 
In opinion respecting the nature and constituent parts of this god, and as 
they could invent no figure that could represent all his attributes, they 
painted him in the form of a man. He is in a sitting posture, in allusion 
to his immutable essence ; the upper part of his body is uncovered, be- 
cause it is in the upper regions of the universe (the stars) that he is most 
conspicuous. He is covered from the waist downward, because respect- 
ing terrestrial things he is more mysterious. He holds a sceptre in his 
left hand, because it is the side of the heart, and the heart is the seat of 


aod under that of £i, eustenee, which the Thebans cemeented 
by the nanae of Kneph ; which Sais wonhipped uoder the em- 
blem of Isis Yeiled, with this inseriptioD : * I am all that has 
been, that is, and that shall be, and no mortal has raised my 
▼ey ;' which Pythagoras honored under the name of Vesta, and 
which the stoic philosophy defined precisely by calling it the 
principle of fire. In vain did Moses wish to blot from his reli- 
gion everything which had relation to the stars ; many traits 
call them to mind in spite of all he has done : the seven lumi- 
naries or planets of the great candlestick, the twelve stones or 
signs in the urim of the high priest, the feast of the two equi- 
noxes, entrances and gates of the two hemispheres, the ceremo- 
ny of the lamb or celestial ram; lastly, the name even of Osiris* 

the understanding, which (in human beings) regulates every aclioo." 
(Euseb., Prcepar. Evang., p. 100.) 

The following passage of the geographer and philosopher, StrabO| re- 
moves every doubt as to the identity of the ideas of Moses and those of 
the heathen theologians : — 

** Moses, who was one of the Eg3rptian priests, taught that it was a 
monstrous error to represent the Deity under the form of animalsi as the 
Egyptians did, or in the shape of men, as was the practice of the Greeks 
and Africans ; that alone is tlie Deity (said he) which constitutes heaven, 
earth, and being ; that which we call the world, the sum of all things, 
nature 3 and no reasonable person will think of representing such a being 
by the image of any one of the objects around us : it is for this reason 
that, rejecting every species of images (idols), Moses wished the Deity 
to be worshipped without emblems, and according to his proper nature ; 
and he accordingly ordered a temple worthy of him to be erected, etc." 
Creograph., lib. xvj., p. 1104, ed. of 1707. 

The theology of Moses has, therefore, differed in no respect from that 
of the worshippers of the soul of the world, that is, from the Stoics and 

As to the history of Moses, Diodorus properly represents it, when he 
says (lib. xxxiv. and xl.) that " the Jews were driven out of Egypt du- 
rmg a famine when the country was full of foreigners, and Uiat Moses, a 
man of extraordinary prudence aud courage, seized this opportunity of 
establishing his nations in the mountains of Judea.'' As to 600,000 men, 
whom Exodus gives him, it is an error of the transcribers, the proof of 
which, taken, from the books themselves, is to be found in the first vol- 
ume -of New Researches on Ancient History, p. 162, and following. 

• It is expressly mentioned in Deuteronomy, c. xxxii. : *' The works 
of Tsour «i€ perfect." Now Tsour has been translated by the word 
Creator j its, proper signification is to give forms : and this is one of the 
definitions of Osiris in Plutarch. 

X60 VHX Bums. 

pveterved in. hit cantiole, and the srk or coffert an imitadon of 
the tomb in which that god was laid, all remain as ao many wit-* 
oeases of the filiation of his ideas, and of their deriyation from 
the common souree. 

X. Beligion of Zoroaster. 

** Such also was Zoroaster, who, two centuries after Moses, 
revived and moralised among the Medes and Bactrians the whole 
Egyptian system of Osiris and Typhon, under the names of 
Ormuzd and Ahrimanes ; who, to explain the system of natore, 
supposed two great gods or powers, one occupied in creating 
and producing in an empire of light and genial heat (represent- 
ed by summer), and therefore god of Science, beneficence, and 
virtue ; the other occupied in destroying in an empire of datk- 
nsss and cold (represented by the pole of winter), and there- 
fore god of ignorance, malevolence, and sin : who, by figurative 
expressions, afterward misunderstood, called creation of the 
world the renewal of nature in spring ; called resurrection the 
renewal of the periods of the Btars in their conjunctions ; fu- 
ture life, hell, and paradise, what was only the Tartarus and 
Elysium of the astrologers and geographers ; in a word, he did 
nothing but consecrate the pre-existing dreams of the mystical 

XI. Brakmism, or Indian System, 

" And such, too, was the Indian legislator, who, under the 
name of Menou, preceded Zoroaster and Moses, and consecra- 
ted, on the banks of the Ganges, the doctrine of the three prin- 
ciples, or gods known to the Greeks, one of whom, named 
Brahma, or Joupiter, was author of all production or creation 
(the sun in spring) ; the second, named Chiven, or Pluto, was 
the god of all destruction (the sun in winter) ; and the third, 
named Vichenou, or Neptune, was god the preserver of the 
stationary state (the sun in the solstices, stator) : all three dis- 
tinct, and yet forming all three only one god or power, who, 
sung in the vedas, as in the orphic hymns, is no other than the 
three-eyed Joupiter,* or snn with three modes of action, in the 

* Eye and sun are expressed by the same word io most of the ancient 
langoagesof Asia. 

THE RUOrs* 161 

t]ii«e ritoiu or seasons. This is the origin of b]] the traiitaiy 
system subtilized by Pythagoras and Phito, and toially disfig- 
ured by their interpreters. 

XII. Boudhism, or Mystical System, 

"Such, in fine, were the moralist reformers revered after 
Menou, under the names of Boudah, Gaspa, Chekia, Goutama, 
etc., who, from the principles of the metempsychosis, variously 
modified, deduced mystical doctrines, useful at first, because 
they inspired their sectaries with a horror of murder, com pas* 
sion for every feeling being, fear of the punishments and hope 
of the rewards reserved for virtue and vice, in another life and 
under a new form; but which afterward became pernicious, by 
the abuse of a visionary system of metaphysics, that endeavored 
to oppose the natural order, and pretended that the palpable and 
material world was a fantastical illusion ; that the existence of 
man was a dream from which he awoke only at his death ; that 
his body was an impure prison which he ought to quit as soon 
as possible, or else a coarse covering, which, to be pervaded by 
the internal light, should be attenuated and rendered diaphanous 
by fasting, macerations, contemplations, and a number of an- 
choritic practices so strange that the astonished vulgar could 
only explain the character of their authors by considering them 
as supernatural beings, and were only embarrassed to know if 
they were God humanized or man deified. 

*' These are the materials which existed in a scattered state 
for many centuries in Asia, when a fortuitous concourse of 
events and circumstances, on the borders of the Euphrates and 
the Mediterranean, served to form them into new combinations. 

XIII. Christianity^ or the AUegorical Worship of ^ Sun, un- 
der the cabalistical names of Chris-en^ or Christy and Yesus, 
or Jesus* 

" In constituting a separate nation, Moses strove in vain to 
defend it against the invasion of foreign ideas. An invincible 
inclination, founded on the affinity of their origin, had constantly 
brought back the Hebrews toward the worship of the neighbor 



faig nations ; and the commeisial and poJitical raUitiona wbich 
necessarilj existed between them, strengthened 4his propensity 
from day to day. As loo g as the constitution of the state re- 
mained entire, the coereive force of the government and laws 
opposed these innovations and retarded their progress ; never- 
theless, the high places were full of idols, and the god Sun had 
his chariot and horses painted in the palaces of the kings, and 
even in the temples of Yahouh. But when the conquests of 
the sultans of Nineveh and Babylon had dissolved the bands of 
civil power, the people, left to themselves, and solicited by their 
conquerors, restrained no longer their inclination for profane 
opinions, and they were publicly professed in Judea. First, the 
Assyrian colonies, which came and occupied the lands of the 
tribes, filled the kingdom of Samaria with dogmas of ihe magi, 
which very soon penetrated into the kingdom of Judah. After- 
ward, Jerusalem being subjugated, the Egyptians, Syrians, and 
Arabs, entering this defenceless country, introduced their opin- 
ions, and the religion of Moses was doubly mutilated. Besides, 
the priests and great men, being transported to Babylon and 
educated in the sciences of the Kaldeans, imbibed, during a res- 
idence of fifty years, the whole of their theology ; and from that 
moment the dogmas of the hostile genius (Satan),* the arch- 
angel Michael, the ancient of days (Ormuzd), the rebel angels* 
the battles in heaven, the immortality of the soul, and the res- 
urrection, all unknown to Moses, or rejected by his total si- 
lence respecting them, were introduced and naturalized among 
the Jews. 

" The emigrants returned to their country with these ideas ; 
and their innovation at first excited disputes between their par- 
tisans the Pharisees, and their opponents the Sadducees, who 
maintained the ancient national worship. But the former, aided 
by the propensities of the people, and their habits already con- 
tracted, and supported by the Persians, their deliverers and mas- 

* " The names of the angelt and of the months, such as Gabriel, Mi- 
chael, Yar, Niaan,'' etc., came ftoro Babylon with the Jews, says ex- 
pressly the Talmud of Jerusalem. See Beausobre, Histoire du Manich, 
voL 11, p. 6*24, where he proves that the saints of the calendar are an 
imitation of the 365 angels of the Persians ; and Jamblicus, in his Egyp- 
tian Mysteries, sec. 2, c. 3, spsaks of angelsi archangels, seraphimsi etc., 
like a true Christian. 


ten, gained the ascendant oyer the latter ; and the sons of M»- 
•es consecrated the theology of Zoroaster.* 

*^ A fortuitous analogy between two leading ideas was highly 
larorable to this coalition, and became the basis of a last system, 
not less surprising in the fortune it has had in the world, than 
in the causes of its formation. 

«* After the Assyrians had destrc^ed the kingdom ^f Samaria, 
some judicious men foresaw the same destiny for Jerusalem, 
which they did not fail to predict and pttbiish ; and their pre- 
dictions had the particular turn of being terminated by prayers 
for a re-establishment and regeneration^ uttered in the form of 
prophecies. The hierophants, in their enthusiasm, had painted 
a king as a ileUyerer, who was to re-establish the nation in its 
ancient glQty: the Hebrews were to become once more a pow* 
erful, a conquering nation, and 4^erusalem the capital of an em* 
.pire extended over the whole earth. 

** Events having realized the first part of these predictions, 
the ruin of Jerusalem, the people adh^ned to the second with a 
firmness of belief in proportion to their misfortunes ; and the 
afilicted Jews expected, with the impatience of want and desire, 
this victorious king and deliverer who was to come and save the 
nation of Moses, and restore the empire of David. 
■ '* On the other hand, the sacred and mythological traditions 
of preceding times had spread through all Asia a dogma per- 
fectly analogous. The cry there was a great mediator, a final 
judge, a future savior, a king, god, conqueror, and legislator, 
who was to restore the golden age upon earth, f to deliver it 
from the dominion of evil, and bring men back to the empire 
of good, peace, and happiness. The people seized and eher- 
ished these ideas with so much the more avidity, as they found 
in them a consolation under that deplorable state of suffering 

• " The whole philosophy of the gymnosophists (says Diogenes Laer* 
tius), on the authority of an ancient writer, is derived from that of the 
Magi ', and many assert that of the Jews to have the same origin." (Lib. 
1, c. 9.) Megastheaes, an historian of repute in the days of Seleucus 
Nicanor, and who wrote particularly upon India, speaking of the phikis. 
ophy of the ancients respecting natural things, puts the Brahmins aad 
the Jews precisely on the same footing. 

t This is the reason of the application of the many pagan oracles to 
Jesus, and particularly the fourth eclogue of Vhrgil and the sybiUiot 
verses so celebrated among the ancients. 


tttto which thej had been plunged by the devastations of sac- 
ceasiye conquests, and die barbarous despotism of their goyem- 
ments. This conformity between the oracles of nations and 
those of the prophets, excited the attention of the Jews ; and 
doubtless the prophets had the art to compose their descrip- 
tions after the style and genius of the sacred books employed in 
the pagan mysteries. There was, therefore, a general ezpecta* 
tion in Judea of a great ambassador, a final savior, when a sin- 
gular circumstance determined the epoch of his coming. 

«* It is found in the sacred books of the Persians and Kalde- 
ans, that the world, composed of a total rerolution of twelve 
thousand; was divided into two partial revolutions, one of whicht 
the age and reign of good, termi nated jnjjix thous and, and the 
other, the age and reign of evil, was to terminate in six thou- 
sand morOk 

*' fiy these records, the first authors had understood the an- 
nual revolution of the great celestial orb, called the world (a 
revolution composed of twelve months or signs, divided each 
into a thousand parts) ; and the two systematic periods of vnn- 
ter and summer, compbsed each of six thousand. These ex- 
pressions, wholly equivocal and badly explained, having received 
an absolute and moral, instead of a physical and astrological 
tense, it happened that the annual world was taken for the sec- 
ular world, the thousand of the zodiacal divisions for a thousand 
of years ; and supposing, from the state of things, that they 
lived in the age of evil, they inferred that it would end with the 
six thousand pretended years.* 

" Now, according to calculations admitted by the Jews, they 
began to reckon near six thousand years since the (supposed) 
creation of the world. This coincidence caused a fermentation 
in the public mind. Nothing was thought of but the approach- 

* Read upon this sobject the 17th chapter of the 1st volume of New 
Researches on Ancient History, where the mythology hi the creation is 
explained. The septoagint reckoned &7e thousand and nearly six hunp 
dred years ; and this calculation was generally adopted. It is well 
known how much, in the first ages of the church, this opinion of the end 
of the world agitated the minds of men. In the sequel, the general 
councils, taking courage, pronounced the expectation that prevailed 
heretical, and its believers were called millenarians : a circumstance 
curious enough, since it is etident from the history of the gospels that 
Jesus was a millenarian, and consequently a heretic. 



ing end ; they coiunilted the hierophants and the mystical books* 
which differed as to the tenn. The great restorer was expected 
and desired ; he was so much spoken of, that some person finally 
was said to have seen him, or some one of a heated imagination 
foncied himself such and acquired proselytes, who, deprived of 
their leader by an incident true no doubt, but obscurely record- 
ed, gave rise by their reports to a rnmor which was gradually 
converted into an historical fact. Upon this first basis, all the 
circumstances of mythological traditions took their stand, and 
produced an authentic and entire system, which it was no longer 
permitted to call in question. 

** These mythological traditions recounted that, * in the be- 
ginning, a woman and a man had, by their fall, introduced into 
the world sin and miseiy.' 

** By this was denoted the astronomical fact that the celestial 
virgin and the herdsman (Bootes), by setting heliacally at the 
autumnal equinox, delivered the world to the wintiy constella- 
tions, and seemed, on falling below the horizon, to introduce 
into the world the genius of evil (Ahrimanes), represented by 
the constellation of the serpent.* 

** These traditions related, that the woman had decoyed and 
seduced the man. 

'* And, in fact, the virgin setting' first seems to draw the herds- 
man after her. 

*« That the woman tempted him by -offering him fruit fair to 
the sight, and good to eat, which gave the knowledge of good 
and evil. 

**And, in fact, the virgin holds in her hand a branch of fruit 
which she seems to offer to the herdsman ; and the branch, 
emblem of autumn, placed in the picture of Mithra between 

* " The Persians (says Chardin) call the constellation of the serpent 
Ophiucus, serpent of Eve ; and this serpent O^iucas, or Ophioneus, 
plays a similar part in the theology of the Phenicians ; for Pherecydes, 
their disciple and the master of Pythagoras, said : ' that Ophioneus Ser« 
pentinus had been chief of the rebels against Jupiter.' " (See Mars. 
Ficin. Apol. Socrat., p. m. 797, col. 2.) I shall add, that sphah [with 
wn] signifies in Hebrew viper, serpent. 

In a physical sense, to seduce, seducere, means only to attract, to draw 
after one. 

See this picture of Mithra in Hyde, p. Ill, edit, of 1760, de Religione 
Veterum Persarum. 


winter and' snmmen Mima to open the door and g^ve knowledge, 
ine Key o( gooit and eni. 

*' That this couple had been driven from the celestiai garden* 
and that a cherub with a flaming sword had been placed at tho 
gate to gnard it. 

«• And, in fact, when the Tirgm and the hwdsman fall beneath 
the western horizon, Perseus rises on the other side ;* and thin 
genins, with a sword in his band, seems to drive them from 
the summer heaven, the garden and dominion of fruits and 

** That of this virgin should be born, spring up, an offspring* 
a child, who should bruise the head of the serpent, and deliver 
the world flrora sin. 

^* This denotes the sun, which, at the moment of the winter 
solstice, precisely when the Persian magi drew the horoscope 
of the new year, was placed on the bosom of the virgin, rising 
heliacally in the eastern horizon. On this account he was fig- 
uied in their astrological pictures under the form of a child 
suckled by a chaste virgin,f and became afterward, at the vernal 

* Rather the head of Medusa, that head of a woman once so beautiful, 
which Perseus cut off, and which he holds in his hand, is only that of 
the Virgin, whose head sinks belaw the horizon at the very moment that 
Perseus rises ; and the serpents which surroimd it are Ophiucus and the 
pular dragon, who then occupy the zenith. This shows us in what man- 
ner the ancient astrologers composed all their figures and fiibles. They 
took such constellations as they found at the same time on the circle of 
the horizon, and, collecting the different parts, they formed groups which 
served them as an almanac in hieroglyphic characters. Such is the se- 
cret of all their pictures, and the solution of all their mythological raon« 
sters. The Virgin is also Andromeda, delirered by Perseus from the 
whale that pursues her [pro-sequitur]. 

t Such was the picture of the Persian sphere cited by Aben-Ezra, in 
the Co^lum Poeticum of Blaeu, p. 71. " The division of the first deean 
of the Virgin," says that writer, << represents a beautiful virgin with flow- 
ing hair, sitting in a chair, with two ears of com in her hand, and suck- 
ling ah infant called lesus by some nations, and Christ in Greek.'' 

There is to be found in the French king's library an Arabian mano- 
script (No. 1,165), in which is a picture of the twelve signs ; and that 
of the Virgin represents a young girl with an infant by her side. The 
whole scene, indeed, of the birth of Jesus is to be found in the adjacent 
part of the heavens. The stable is the constellation of the charioteer 
and the goat, formerly capricom— a constellation called pnesepe Jovie 
Heniochi, stable of lou : and the word Ion is found in the name of lov* 

THB RUiirs. i«7 

eqrdnox, the nun, or lamb, triumphant over the constellatioa of 
the serpent, which disappeared from the skies. 

** That, in his infancy, this restorer of divine and celestial oa* 
tare would live abased, humble,* obscure and indigent. 

" And this, because the winter sun is abased below the hori* 
zon, and that this first period of his four ages or seasons is a 
time of obscurity, scarcity, fasting, and want. 

" That, being put to death by the wicked, he had risen glo- 
riously ; that he had reascended from hell to heaven, where he 
would reign for ever.' 

«* This is a sketch of the life of the sun, who, finishing his ca- 
reer at the winter solstice, when Typhon and the rebel angels 
gain the dominion, seem to be put to death by them ; but who 
soon afler is born again, and rises into the vault of heaven, where 
he reigns. f 

** Finally, these traditions went so far as to mention even his 
astrological and mysterious names, and inform us that he was 

aeph [Joseph]. At no great distance is the ass of T3rphoo [the great 
bear], and the ox or bull, the ancient attendants of the manger. Peter, 
the porter, is Jaous, with his keys and bald forehead ; the twelve apos- 
tles are the genii of the twelve months, etc. This virgin has acted 
very different parts in the various systems of mythology. She has been 
the Isis of the Egyptians, who said of her in one of their inscriptions 
cited by Julian, << The fruit I brought forth is the sun.-' Most of the 
traits mentioned by Plutarch apply to her, in the same manner as those 
of Osiris apply to Bootes. Also, the seven principal stars of the bear, 
called David's chariot, were called the chariot of Osiris (see Kirker) ; 
and the crown that is situated behind, formed of ivy, was called Chen- 
Osiris — Osiris's tree. The Virgin has likewise been Ceres, whose mys- 
t^ies were the same with those of Isis and Mitbra. She has been the 
Diana of Ephesus, the great goddess of S3rria i Cybele, drawn by lions ; 
Minerva, the mother of Bacchus ; Astrea, a chaste virgin taken up into 
heaven at the end. of the golden age ; Themis, at whose feet is the bal- 
ance that was put in her hands ; the Sybil of Virgil, who descends into 
hell, or sinks below the hemisphere, with a branch in her hand, etc. 

* This word humble comes from the Latin hvmUs, Aumt-jactfiw— lying 
on or inclined toward the ground \ and the physical signification is at 
ways found to be the root of the abstract and moral sense. 

t Remrgere, to rise a second time, can not signify to return to life, but 
in a bold, metaphorical sense j and we see continually mistakes of this 
kind result fVom the ambiguous meaning Of the words made use of in an« ' 
dent tradition. 


called sometimes Chris/ that is to say, preserver; and irom 
that ye Indians have made your god Chris- ?n or Chris-na ; and 
ye Greek and Western Christians, your Chris-tos, son of Mary, 
is the same : sometimes he is called Yes, by the union of three 
letters, which by their numerical value form the number 608, 
one of the solar periods :f and this, Europeans, is the name 
which, with the Latin termination, is become your lesus, or 
Jesus, the ancient and cabalistic name attributed to young Bac- 
chus, the clandestine (nocturnal^ son of the virgin Minerva, 

* The Greeks used to express by x, or the Spanish jota, the aspirated ha 
of the Orientals, who said ?uiris : in Hebrew, heres signifies the sun ; J[>ut 
in ArabiC; the radical word means to guard, to preserve, and Juaris^ guardi* 
an, preserver. It is the proper epithet of Vichenou, which demonstrates 
at once the identity of the Indian and Christian trinities, and their com- 
mon origin. It is manifestly bat one system, which, divided into two 
branches, one in the east, and the other in the west, assumed two differ- 
ent forms ; its principal trunk is the Pythagorean system of the soul of 
the world, or loupiter. The epithet piter or father having been applied 
to the demi-ourgos of the Platonicians, gave Tise to an ambiguity which 
caused an inquiry to be made after the son. In the opinion of the philoso- 
phers, it was the understanding, rums and logoff, from which the Latins 
made their verbum ; and thus we clearly perceive the origin of the eter- 
nal father and of the verb, his son, proceeding from him (meru ex Deo 
nataf says Macrobius) : the anima or apirUus mundi was the Holy Ghost ; 
and it is for this reason that Manes, Banlides, Valentinius, and other pre- 
tended heretics of the first ages, who traced things to their source, said 
that God the father was the supreme, inaccessible light of heaven (the 
first circle, or the aplanes) ; the Son, the secondary light, resident in the 
sun ; and the Holy Ghost, the atmosphere of the earth. (See Beausob., 
vol. u., p. 586) Hence among the Syrians his emblem of a dove, the 
bird of Venus Urania, that is, of the air. " The Syrians (says Nigidiusi 
in Germanico) assert that a dove sat several days in the Euphrates oa 
the egg of a fish, whence Venus was bom." Sextus Empiricus also ob- 
serves (Inst. Pyrrh., lib. iii., c. xxiil.) that the Syrians abstain from eat- 
ing doves ; this intimates to us a period commencing in the sign of Pisces 
(in the winter solstice). We may further observe that, if Chris comes 
from Hariach by a chin, it will signify artificer, an epithet belonging lo 
the sun. These variations, which must have embarrassed the ancients, 
prove it to be the real type of Jesus, as had been already remarked in 
the time of TertuUian. " Many (says this writer) suppose, with greater 
probability, that the sun is our God, and they refer us to the religion of 
the Persians." (Apologet., c. xvi.) 

t See a curious ode to the sun by Martianus Capella, translated by Ge- 
belin (v olome of the Calendar, pp. 547, 548) . 

who, in the historjr of his whole fife, and eren of his deleft/ 
brings to mind the histoiy of the God of the Christians, that i% 
of the star of day, of which they are each of them the em- 

Here a great mnrmar having arisen among all the Christian 
groups, the Mnssuimans, the Lamas, the Indians, eaUed them 
to order, and the orator went on to finish his disconrse :-^ 
' •• Yoti know, at present,'* said he, *• how the rest of this sy»» 
tem was composed in the chaos and anarchy of the first thrcQ 
c\en tunes ; what a multitude of singular opinions dirided tha 
lAinds of men, and armed them with an enthusiasm and a recip< 
rocal obktinacy, because, being equally founded on ancient tra* 
dition, they w^re equally sacred. You linow how the govern* 
ment, after three centuries, having embraced one of these sectSi 
made it the orthodox, that is to say, the predominant religion, 
to the exclusion of the rest, wliich, being inferior in number, be- 
came heretical ; you know how and by what means of violence 
and seduction this religion was propagated, extended, divided* 
and enfeebled ; how, six hundred years after the Christian in- 
novation, another system was formed from it, and from that of 
the Jews ; and how Mahomet found the means of composing a 
political and theological empire at the expense of those of Mosea 
and the vicars of Jesus. 

** Now, if you take a review of the whole history of the spirit 
of religion, you will see that in its origin it has had no other 
author than the sensations and wants of man ; that the idea of 
God has had no other type and model than those of physical 
powers, material beings producing either good or evil by im- 
pressions of pleasure or pain on sensitive beings ; that, in the 
ibrmatioft of all these systems, the spirit of religion has always 
followed ^e same course, and been uniform in its proceedings; 
that in all of them the dogma has never failed to represent, tm- 
der the name of gods, the operations of nature, the pasisionsand 
prejudices of men ; that the moral of them all has had for iti^ 
object the desire of happiness, and aversion to pain : but that 
the people, and the greater part of legislators, not knowing the 
route to be pursued, have formed false,* and therefore discordant, 
ideas of virtue and vice, of good and evil, that is to say, of what* 
renders man happy or miserable ; that in every instance, the 
ni^ans and the causes of propagating and establishing systems 


JffQ THE &U2KfiU 

have exhibited the avae scenes of passion and the same events t 
eveiywhere disputes about words, pretexts for zeal, revolutions 
and wars excited by the ambition of princes, the knavery of 
apostles, the credulity of proselytes, the ignorance of the vul- 
gar, the exclusive cupidity and intolerant airogance of all : in 
fine, you will see that the whole history of the spirit of religion 
is only the history of the errors of the human mind, which^ 
placed in a world that it does not comprehend, endeavors never- 
theless to solve the enigma ;. and which, beholding with aston* 
iahment this mysterious and visible prodigy, imagines causes, 
supposes reasons, builds systems ; then, finding one defectivct 
destroys it for another not less so ; hates the error that it quits, 
misconceives the one it embraces, rejects the truth it is seeking, 
composes chimeras of discordant beings, and always dreaming . 
of wisdom and happiness, wanders in the labyrinth of illusion 
and of pain." 



Thus spoke the orator, in the name of those men who had 
studied the origin and succession of religious ideas. 

The theologians of various systems reasoning on this dis- 
course; " It is an impious representation," said some, ** whose 
tendency is nothing less than to overturn all belief^ to destroy 
subordination in the minds of men, and annihilate our ministry 
and power." — ** It is a romance," said others, ** a tissue of con* 
jectures, composed with art, but without foundation." 

The moderate and the prudent men added : ** Supposing all 
this to be true, why reveal these mysteries ? Doubtless ow 
opinions are full of errors ; but these errors are a necessary le* 
straint on the multitude. The world has gone thus for two 
thousand years ; why change it now ?" 

A murmur of disapprobation, which never fails to rise at eveiy 
innovation, now began to increase, when a numerous group of 


the eommon class of people, aad of nntanght men of all coq»- 
toes aad of ereiy nation, w^ont prophets, withont doctors, 
and without doctrine, advancing in the circle, drew the attention 
of the whole assembly; and one of them, in the name of all, 
thus addressed the legislator : — 

'* Mediator and arbiter of nations ! the strange relations which 
have occvpied the present debate were unknown to us untU this 
day ; our understanding, confounded and amazed at so many 
things, some, of them, learned, others absurd, and all incompre- 
hensible, remains in uncertainty and doubt. One only reflec- 
tion has etruck us : on renewing so many prodigious facts, so 
many contradictory assertions, we ask ourselves what are all 
these discussions to us ? What need have we to know what 
happened live or six thousand years ago, in countries we never 
heard of, and among men who will ever be unknown to us? 
True or false, what interest have we in knowing whether the 
world has existed six thousand, or twenty thousand ^yeais 7 
whether it was made of nothing, or of something ? by itself or 
by a maker, who in his turn would require another maker ? 
What ! we are not sure of what happens near us, and we shall 
wswer for what happens in the sun, in the moon, or in imagi- 
nary regions, of space ? We have forgotten our own infancy, 
and shall we know the infancy of the world 1 and who will at- 
test what no one has seen ? who will certify what no man com- 
prehends ? 

•• Besides, what addition or diminution will it make to our 
existence to say yes or no to all these chimeras ? Hitherto nei- 
ther we nor our forefathers have had the least notion of them, 
and we do not perceive that we have had on this account either 
more or less of the sun, more or less subsistence, more or less 
of good or of evil. 

** If the knowledge of these things is so necessary, why have 
we lived as well withont it as those who have taken so much 
trouble about it 1 If this knowledge is superfluous, why should 
we burden ouxselves with it to-day ?" 

Then addressing himself to the doctors and theologians, 
*« What !" said he, <« is it necessary that we, poor and ignorant 
men, whose every moment is scarcely sufficient for the cares of 
life and the labors of which you take the profit — ^is it necessary 
for us to learn the numberless histMies that you have related, 

173 l^HB BXTIIC8« 

tQ read the quaatity of books tbat yon harecitedt awi to slud^ 
the rarions languages in whiek . they are composed 1 -A thovt- 
sand years of Ule would not siiffice-***^---" 

*«It b not necessary," replied thedoetors,'**tliat yoa skoutd* 
acquire all this science : we have it for you*— •^" 

•*:Biit eren you»" rejrfied the simple men, **with all your 
science, you can not agree ; of what advantage, then, is yottJ5 
science 1 

*.* Besides, how can you answer for us ? If of ode 
man is applicable to. many, what need hare even you to belleT^I 
Your fathers may have believed for you, and this wotdd be' rea* 
Sooable, since they have seen for you. 

*' Farthet, what is believing, if belief influences no aotioat' 
And what a^ion is influenced by believing, for instaaoe, 
world is or is not eternal V* : . > . 

*^ The latter would be ofiensive to God,'* said the doctors* 
., ^^ How prove you that ?" replied the simple men. 

'* Jn our books," answered the doctors. 

^* We do not understand them,'' returned the simple men. 

** "We understand them for you,*' said the docton. 

«* That is the difficulty," replied the simple men. • *^By what 
right do you constitute yourselves -mediatora between God and 

" By his orders," said the doctors. 

"Where is the proof of these orders?" said the simple 

" In our books," said the doctors. 

" We understand them not,^' said the simple men ; "and how 
came this just God to give you this privilege over us? Why 
should this common Father oblige us to believe on a less degree 
of evidence than you ? He has spoken to you, be it so ; he is 
infallible^ and deceives you not : but it is you who speak to us. 
And who shall assure us that you are not in error yourselves, 
or that you will not lead us into error? And if\ve should be 
deceived, how will that just God save us contra*y to law, or 
condemn us on a law which we have not knoWn ?" 

" He has given you the natural law," said the doctors. 

" And what is the natural law ?" replied the simple men. " If 
that law suffices, why has he given any other ? If it js not suf- _ 
flcient, why did he make it imperfect ?' 

VHB jivm^. 173 

. <*Hi8jii4fneiit« ure mysterios/* Mid thedoDtm^ **and Jm 
justice is not liko that of meii." 

; ** If hW justiGO," replied the simple men, ** is not like onrs^ by 
wiiat rale 9xp we te judge of it 7 and i^oreover, why all these 
Jaws, fM9d whsat is the object proposed by them 1" 

** To render you more happy,'' replied a doctor, ** by rendei^ 
hag yon better and mojE»Yirtuoas : it is to teaoh man to enjoy 
jbis benefits, and not.injure each other^that God has manifested 
iumself by^-many oracles aed piodigief." 
. *< In that case**' said the pimple men, ** there is no necessity 
for so many studies, nor of such a yariety of arguments, only teU 
US which is the religion that best answers die end which Ih^ 
all propose." 

Immediately, on this* e^ery group extolling its own morality 
above that of all others, there arose among die different sects a 
new and moet violent dispute. 

. «' It is we," sud the Mussulmans, ** who possess the most exr 
<eellent moralSf who teach all the virtues useful to men and 
agreeable to God. We profess justice, disinterestedness, re^ig* 
nation to providence, charity to onr brethren, alnos-giviog, and 
devotion ; we ferment not the soul with superstitious fears; we 
live without alarm, and die without remorse." 

** How dare you speak of morals," answered the Christiaa 
priests, *• you, whose chief lived in licentiousness and preached 
impurity? yoQ» whose first precept is homicide and war ? For 
this we appeal to experience : since twelve hundred yean your 
fanatical zeal has not ceas0d to spread commotion and carnage 
among the nations ; and if Asia^ once so flourishing, is now lan*- 
guishing in barbarism and depopulation, it is in your doctrine 
that we find the cause—in that doctrine, the enemy of all in- 
struction, which sanctifies ignorance, which consecrates the 
inost absolute despotism iif the governors, exacts the most blind 
and passive obedience from the people, has stupefied the faculties 
of man, and brutalized the nations. 

''* It is not so with our sublime and cdestial morals. It was 
they which raised the world from its primitive barbarity, from 
the senseless and cruel superstitions of idolatry, from human 
sacrifices,* from the shameful orgies of pagan mysteries. It 

* See the frigid dedamation of Eusebius (Pioep. Evang., lib. 1, p.ll)« 
who pretends that, since the earning of Chiist, there have neither been 



was they that purified manners, proseribed rarest and adultery, 
polished savage nations, banished slavery, and hitroduced new 
and unknown virtues, charity for men, their equality before God, 
forgiveness and forgetfulness of injuries, the restraint of aH the 
passions, the contempt of worldly greatness, a life completely 
spiritual and eomf^tely holy." 

** We admire,*' said the Mussulmans, ^* the ease with whic^ 
you reconcile- that evangelical meekness, of which you are so 
ostentatious, with the injuries and outrages with which you are 
constantly galling your neighbors. When yon criminate so 
severely the great man whom we revere, we might fairly retort 
on the conduct of him whom you adore ; but we scorn such 
advantages, and confining ourselves to the real object in ques* 
tion, we maintain that the morals of your gospel have by no 
means that perfection which you ascribe to them. It is not 
true that they have introduced into the world new and unknown 
virtues : for example, the equality of men before God, that fra* 
ternity and that benevolence which follow from it, were fonmd 
doctrines of the sect of the Hermetics or Samaneans, from whom 
you descend. As to the forgiveness of injuries, the pagans 
themselves had taught it ; but in the extent you give it, far from 
being a virtue, it becomes an immorality, a vice. Your w> 
much boasted precept of holding out one cheek after the other, 
is not only contraiy to every sentiment of man, but is opposed 
to all ideas of justice ; it emboldens the wicked by impumiy, 
debases the virtuous by servility, delivers up the world to des- 
potism and tyranny, and dissolves all society : such is the true 
spirit of your doctrines. Your gospels* in their precepts and 

wars, nor tj^rants, nor cannibals, nor sodomites, nor persons committing 
Snoest, nor savages devouring their parents, etc. When we read these 
early doctors of the cburch| we are astonished at their insincerity or in-, 
fatuation. A curious work would be a small volume of their most re- 
markable passages, to expose their folly. The truth is, that Christianity 
baa invented nothing new in morals, and all its merit consists in putting 
lnt<^ practice principles which owed' their success to circumstances of the 
times ; that is to say, the arrogant and cruel despotism of the Romans 
in the various branches, military, judiciary, and administrative — Shaving 
exhausted the patience of nations — produced, among the inferior or pop- 
ular classes, a movement of reaction absolutely similar to that which, 
since twenty*tfve years, exists in Europe among the people against the 
oppression of the sacerdotal and feudal castes. 


their parables, never represent God but as a despot without any 
rules of equity ; a partial father treating a debauched and prod- 
igal son with more fevor than his other respectful and virtuous 
children ; a capricious master, who gives the same wages to 
workmen who had wrought but one hour, as to those who had 
labored through the whole day ; one who prefers the last-comers 
to the firsts The moral is everywhere misanthropic and anti- 
social ; it disgusts men with life and with society, and tends only 
to encourage hermitism and celibacy. 

** As to the manner in which you have practised these morals, 
we appeal in our turn to the testimony of facts. We ask wheth- 
er it is this evangelical meekness which has excited your inter- 
minable wars of sects, your atrocious persecutions of pretended 
heretics, your crusades against Arlanism, Manicheism, Protest- 
antism — ^without speaking of your crusades against us, and of 
those sacrilegious associations, still subsisting, of men who take 
an oath to continue them ?* We ask you whether it be gos- 
pel charity which has made you exterminate whole nations in 
America, and annihilate the empires of Mexico and Peru ?-— 
which makes you continue to dispeople Africa, and sell its in- 
habitants like cattle, notwithstanding your abolition of slavery ? 
—which makes you ravage India and usurp its dominions ? — 
and whether it be the same charity which, for three centuries 
past, has led you to havoc the habitations of the people of three 
continents, of whom the most prudent, the Chinese and Japan- 
ese, were constrained to drive you off, that they might escape 
your chains and recover their internal peace ?" 

Here the brahmins, the rabbins, the bonzes, the chamans, the 
priests of the Molucca islands and of the coast of Guinea, load- 
ing the Christian doctors with reproaches — ^* Yes .'*' cried they, 
*' these men are robbers and hypocrites, who preach simplicity 
to surprise confidence ; humility, to enslave with more ease ; 
poverty, to appropriate all riches to themselves. Tfaey promise 
anotfier world, the better to usurp the present ; and while they 
speak to you of tolerance and charity, they bum, in the name 
of God, the men who do not worship him in their manner.** 

^* Lying priests !*' retorted the missionaries, " it is you who 
abuse the credulity of ignorant nations to subjugate them. It 

* The oath taken by the knights of Malta wasi to kill or make pris- 
oners the Mahometans, for the glory of God. 

176 THB RUmS. 

is you who have made of your ministry an art of cheating and 
imposture ; you have converted religion into a traffic of cupidity 
and avarice. You pretend to hold communication with spirits, 
and they give for oracles nothing but your wills. You feign to 
read the stars, and destiny decrees only your desires. You 
cause idols to speak, and the gods are but the instruments of 
your passions. You have invented sacrifices and libations, to 
collect for your own profit the milk of flocks and the flesh and 
fat of victims ; and under the cloak of piety you devour the 
o/ferings of the gods, who can not eat, and the substance of the 
people who labor." 

** And you," replied the brahmins, the bonzes, the chamans* 
." sell to the credulous living your vain prayers for the souls of 
the dead. With your indulgences and absolutions, you have 
usurped the power of God himself; and making a traflic of his 
favors and pardons, you have put heaven at auction, and, by 
your system of expiations, you have formed a tariff of crimes* 
which has perverted all consciences." 

** Add to this," said the Imams, ** that these men have invent- 
ed the most insidious of all systems of wickedness — ^the absurd 
and impious obligation of recounting to them the most intimate 
secrets of actions and of thoughts (confession) ; so that their 
insolent curiosity has carried their inquisition even into the 
sanctuary of the marriage-bed, f and the inviolable recesses of 
the heart." 

* As long as it shall be possible to obtain purification flrom crimes and 
exemption from pmiishment by means of moHey^or other frivolous prac- 
tices ; as long as kings and lords shall suppose, that building temples or 
Instituting foundations, will absolve them from the guilt of oppression 
and homicide ; as long as individuals shall imagine that they may rob 
and cheat, provided they fast during Lent, go to confession, and receive 
extreme unction, — ^it is impossible there should exist either a public or 
private morality, or salutary practical legislation. But to see the efiects 
of these doctrines, it is only necessary to peruse the Histwy of the Tem* 
poral Power of the Popes, 4th edition. 4 

t Confession is a very ancient invention of the priests, who did not fiul 
to avail themselves of that means of governing. It was practised in the 
Egyptian, Greek, Phrygian, Persian mysteries, etc. Plutarch has trans- 
mitted us the remarkable answer of a Spartan whom a priest wanted to 
confess. << Is it to you, or to God, I am to confess ?"—« To God,'' an- 
swered the priest.—" In that case," replied the Spartan, " man, begone !" 
(Remarkable sayings of the Lacedemonians.) The first Christians con- 


Thus by mutual reprpacheft the doctors of ijie differeot sects 
began to reveal all the crimes of their miQistry-— all the vices of 
their craft ; and it was foaod that, among all nations, the spirit 
of the priesthood, their system of conduct, their actions, their 
morals, were absolutely the same : — 

That they had everywhere formed secret associations wad 
eorporations at emnity with the rest of society ;* 

fessed their fiuilts publicly, like the Esseniaus ; afterward, priests began 
to be estabfishedi with power of absolution from the sin of idolatry. In 
the titne of Theodosius, a woman having pabliciy confessed an intrigne 
with a deacon. Bishop Necterius, and his successor Chrysostom, granted 
communion without confession. It was not until the seventh centuryi 
that the abbots of convents exacted from monks and nuns confession 
twice a year ; and it was at a still later period that bishops of Rome 
generalized it. As to the Mussulmans,' who abhor this practice, and 
who do not allow women a moral idiafaater^ and scarcely a soul, they 
can not conceive how an honest man can listen to the recital of the most 
«ecret actions and thoughts of a girl or a woman. May not we French, 
among whom our education and sentiments render many women superior 
to the men, ask, with astonishment, how can an honest woman consent 
to reveal them to the iijilpertinent curiosity of a monk or a priest T 

• That we may understand the general feelings of priests respecting; 
the rest of manidnd, whom they always call by the name of the people, 
let us hear one of the doctors of the church. ** The people,^' says bishop 
Synnesius (in Calvit., p. 515), ** are desirous to be deceived ; there is no 
acting otherwise with them." Such were always the principles of the 
ancient priests of £gypt ; and for this reason they shut themselves up 
in their temples, and there composed their mysteries, out of the reach 
of the eye of the people. — And, forgetting what he had just said, he 
adds : '* For, had the people been in the secret, they might have been 
offended at the deception. In the meantime, how is it possible to con- 
duct one's self otherwise with the people, so long as they are the peo* 
pie ? For my own part, to myself I shall always be a philosopher, but 
in dealing with the mass of mankind, I shall be a priest." 

<< A little jargon," says Gregory of Nazianzus to St. Jerome (Hieron 
ad Nep.), '' is all that is necessary to impose on the people. The less 
they comprehend, the more they admire. Our forefathers and doctors 
have often said, not what they thought; but what circumstances and ne- 
cessity dictated." 

'* We endeavor," says Sanconiathon, " to excite admiration by means 
. of the marvellous." (Pnep. Ev., lib. ni.) Such was the conduct of all 
the priests of antiquity, and is still that of the brahmins and lamas, who 
are the exact counterpart of the Egyptian priests. To justify this sys- 
tem of imposition and falsehood, we are told that it would be dangerous 
to enlighten the people, because they would abuse their information. Is 


That they had ereiywhere attributed to themselves preroga^ 
thres and immanities, by means of which they lived exempt from 
the burdens of other classes ; 

That they ever3rwhere avoided the toils of the laborer, the 
dangers of the sol<Uer, and the disappointments of the mer- 
chant ; 

That they lived ever3rwhere in celibacy, to shun even the 
cares of a family ; 

That, under the cloak of poverty, they possessed everywhere 
the secret of acquiring wealth and all sorts of enjoyments ; 

That, under the name of mendicity, they raised taxes to a 
greater amount than princes ; 

That, in the form of giAs and offerings, they had established 
fixed and certain revenues exempt from charges ; 

That, under pretence of retirement and devotion, they lived 
in idleness and lieentiousness ; 

That they had made a virtue of alms-giving, to live quietly on 
the labors of others ; 

That they had invented the ceremonies of worship, as a means 
of attracting the reverence of the people, while they were play- 
ing the parts of gods of whom they styled themselves the inter- 
preters and mediators, to assume all their powers; that, with 
this design, they had, according to the degree of ignorance or 
information of their people, assumed by turns the character of 
astrologers, drawers of horoscopes, fortune-tellers, magicians, 
necromancers,* quacks, physicians, courtiers, confessors of 

it meant that instruction and deceit are synonymous ? No ; but as the 
people are unfortunate by the stupidity, ignorance, and avarice, of those 
who lead and instruct them, the latter want them to be hoodwinked. 
Doubtless it would be dangerous to make a direct attack on the errone- 
ous belief of a nation ; but there is a philanthropic and medical art of 
preparing men's eyes for the light, as well as their arms for liberty. If 
ever a corporation is instituted in this sense, it will astonish the world 
by its success. 

* What is a magician, in the sense in which people understand the 
word ? A man who by words and gestures pretends to act on supernat- 
ural beings, and compel them to descend at his call and obey his orders. 
Such was the conduct of the ancient priests, and such is still that of all 
priests in idolatrous nations, for which reason we have given them the 
denomination of magicians. Now, when a Christian priest pretends to 
*make €rod descend from heaven, to fix him to a morsel of leaven, and to 
render, by means of this talisnan, souls pure and in a state of grace, 

THE rSInS. 179 

printees— fllwajs aiming at the great object to govern for their 
own advantage ; 

That sometimes they had exalted the power of kings and 
consecrated their persons, to monopolize their javors or partici* 
pate in the authority ; 

That sometimes they had preached up the murder of tyrants 
(reserving it to 'themselves to define tyranny), to avenge them- 
selves of their contempt or their disobedience ; 

And, that they always stigmatized with impiety whatever 
crossed their interests ; that they hindered all public instruction, 
to exercise the mooopoly of science ; that, finally, in all times 
and in all places, they had found the secret of living in peace in 
the midst of the anarchy they created ; in safety, under the des« 
potism that they favored ; in indolence, amid the industry they 
preached ! and in abundance, while surrounded with scarcity ! 
— and all this by carrying on the singular trade of selling words 
and gestures to credulous people, who purchase them as com- 
modities of the greatest value.* 

Then the different nations, in a transport of fury, were going 
to tear in pieces the men who had thus abused them ; but the 

what is all this but a trick of magic ? And where is the difference be* 
tween him and a chaman of Tartary, who Invokes the genii, or an Indian 
brahmin, who makes his Vichenou descend in a vessel of water to drive 
away evil spirits ? But such is the magic of custom and education, that 
we look upon as simple and reasonable in ourselves, what appears ex- 
travagant and absurd in others. 

* A curious work would be the comparative history of the pope's ag 
noses and the pastils of the grand lama ! It would be worth while to 
extend this idea to reli^^ous ceremonies in general, and to confront, col- 
umn by column, the analogous or contrasting points of faith and super- 
stitious practices in all nations. There is one more species of supersti- 
tion which it would be equally salutary to cure : blind veneration for the 
great ; and for this purpose it would be only necessary to write a minute 
detail of the private life of those who govern the world, princes, cour- 
tiers, and ministers. No work would be more philosophical than this ; 
and accordingly we have seen what a general outcry was excited, when 
the Anecdotes of the Court of Berlin first appeared. What would be the 
alarm, were the public acquainted with the private history of other 
courts ) Did the people know all the crimes and aU the haseness of this 
species of idol, they would no longer covet their specious pleasures, of 
which the plausible and hollow appearance disturbs their peace, and bin* 
ders them from enjoying the much more solid happiness of their own ' 

180 ^HB BUIXS. 

legislator, arresting this movement of violence, addressed tiu^ 
chiefs and doctors : '* What !'* said he ** instructors of nations* 
is it thus you have deceived them ?** 

And the terri/ied priests replied : " O legislator I we are men* 
The people are so superstitious ! they have themselves encourr 
aged these errors.'* 

And the kings said : ** O legislator ! the people are so servile 
and so ignorant ! they prostrated themselves before the yoke, 
which we scarcely dared to show them." 

Then the legislator, turning to the people — ** People !'* said 
he, ** remember what you have just heard : they are two indel* 
ible truths. Yes, you are yourselves the authors of the evib 
you lament ; it is you that encourage tyrants by a base adula- 
tion of their power, by an imprudent admiration of their false 
beneficence, by servility in obedience, by licentiousness in lib- 
erty, and by a credulous reception of every imposition. On 
whom shall you wreak vengeance for the faults conounitted bj 
your own ignorance and cupidity ?'* 

And the people, struck with confusion, remained in mournful 



The legislator then resumed his discourse: **0 nations f* 
said he, ** we have heard the discussion of your opinions ; and 
the different sentiments which divide you have given rise to 
many reflections, and furnished several questions which we shall 
propose to you to solve. 

*' First, considering the diversity and opposition of the creeds 
to which you are attached, we ask on what motives you found 
your persuasion ? Is it from a deliberate choice that you follow 
the standard of one prophet rather than another ? Before adopt- 
ing this doctrine jrather than that, did you first compare ? did 
you maturely examine them ? or have yon received them only 
from the chance of birth — from the empire of education and 
habit ? Are you not born Christians on the banks of the Tiber, 

THB BUIN8. 181 

MuHnlmaiis on those of the Euphrates, Idolaters on th^ Indus, 
just as you are bora fair In cold climates, and sable under the 
scorchipg. sun of Africa ? And if your opinions are the effect 
of your fortuitous position on the earth, of consanguinity, of 
imitation, how is it that such a haaard should be a ground of 
conviction, an argument of truth ? 

** Secondly, when we reflect on the mutual proscriptions and 
arbitrary intolerance of your pretensions, we are frightened at 
the consequences that flow from your own principles. Nations ! 
who reciprocally devot^ each other to the bolts of heavenly 
wrath, suppose that the universal Being whom you revere 
should this moment descend from heaven on this multitude, 
and, clothed with all his power, should sit on this throne to 
judge you: suppose he should say to you: * Mortals! it is 
your own justice that I am going to exercise upon you* Yes, 
of all the religious systems that divide you, one alone shall this 
day be preferred ; ail the others, all this multitude of standards, 
of nations, of prophets, shall be condenmed to eternal destme* 
tion. This is not enough : among the particular sects of the 
chosen system, one only can be favored, and all the others must 
be condemned. Neither is this enough : from this little rem- 
nant of a group, I must exclude all those who have not fulfilled 
the conditions enjoined by its precepts. O men ! to what a 
small number of elect have you limited your race ! To what a 
penury of beneficence do you reduce the immensity of my 
goodness ! To what a solitude of admirers do you condemn my 
greatness and my glory !' 

"But," said the legislator, rising, '^no matter; you have 
willed it so. Nations I here is an ura in which all your names 
are placed. One only is a prize : approach and draw this tre- 
mendous lottery." And the nations, seized with terror, cried : 
** No, no ; we are all brothers, all equal : we can not condemn 
each other." 

Then said the legislator, resuming his seat : " O men ! who 
dispute on so many subjects, lend an attentive ear to one prob- 
lem which you exhibit, and which you ought to decide your- 
selves." And the people, giving great attention, he lifted an 
arm toward heaven, and, pointing to the sun, said : ** Nations, 
does that sun which enlightens you appear square or triangu- 
lar ?" — " No," answered they with one voice ; " it is round." 



Then taking the golden balance that was on the altar : " This 
gold that yoa handle every day, is it heavier than the same vol* 
nme of copper T" — **^ Yes," answered all the people ; " gold is 
heavier than copper.** 

Then taking the sword : ** Is this iron,'* said the legislator, 
••softer than lead ?" — "No,*' said the people. 

" Is sugar sweet, and gall bitter ?"— •* Yes." 

" Do you love pleasure, and hate pain ?" — "Yes." 

'•Thus, then, you are agreed in these points and many others 
of the same nature. 

•• Now, tell us, is there a cavern in the centre of the earth, or 
inhabitants in the moon ?** 

This question occasioned a universal murmur. Eveiy one 
tinswered differently — some yes, others no : one said it was 
probable ; another said it was an idle, ridiculous question ; some, 
that it was worth knowing : and the discord was universal. 

After some time the legislator, having obtained silence, said : 
•• Explain to us, O nations, this problem. We have put to you 
several questions which you have answered with one voice, 
without distinction of race or sect — ^white men, black men, fol- 
lowers of Mahomet and of Moses, worshippers of Boudha and 
of Jesus : all have returned the same answer. We then pro* 
posed another question, and you are all at variance ! Why this 
unanimity in one case, and this discordance in the other ?" 

And the group of simple men and savages answered and said : 
*• The reason of this is evident. In the first case, we see and 
feel the objects, and we speak from sensation ; in the second, 
they are beyond the reach of our senses — ^we speak of them only 
from conjecture." 

" Yon have resolved the problem," said the legislator ; " and 
your own consent has established this first truth : — 

••That whenever objects can be examined and judged of by 
your senses, you are agreed in opinion ; 

•* And, that you only differ when the objects are absent and 
beyond your reach. 

•' From this first truth flows another equally clear and worthy 
of notice. Since you agree on things which you know with 
certainty, it follows that you disagree only on those which you 
know not with 'certainty, and about which you are not sure — 
that is to say, you dispute, you quarrel, you fight, for that 


winch is tTDcertain, that of which you doubt. O men ! is not 
this folly ? 

** Is it not, then, demonstrated, that truth is not the object of 
your contests ? that it is not her cause which you defend, but 
that of your affections and of your prejudices ? that it is not 
the object, as it realTy is in itself, that you would verify, but the 
' object as you would have it — ^that is to say, it is not the evidence 
of the thing that you would enforce, but your own personal 
opinion, your particular manner of seeing and judging ? It is 
a power that you wish to exercise, an interest that you wish to 
satistyi a prerogative that you arrogate to yourselves : it is a 
contest of vanity. Now, as each of you, on comparing himself 
to every other, finds himself his equal and his fellow, he resists 
by a feeling of the same right ; and your disputes, your com- 
bats, your intolerance, are the effect of this right which you 
deny each other, and of the intimate conviction of your equality. 
** Now, the only means of establishing harmony is to return 
to nature, and take for a guide and regulator the. order of things 
which she has founded; and then your accord will prove this 
other truth : — 

" That real beings have in themselves an identical, constant, 
and uniform mode of existence ; ' and, that there is in your or- 
gans a like mode of being affected by them. 

" But, at the same time, by reason of the mobility of these 
organs as subject to your will, you may conceive different affec- 
tions, and find yourselves in different relations with the same 
objects; so that you are to them like a mirror, capable of reflect- 
ing them truly as they are, or of distorting and disfiguring them. 
** Hence it follows that, whenever you perceive objects as 
they are, you agree among yourselves and with the objects ; 
and the similitude between your sensations, and their manner of 
existence, is what constitutes their truth with respect to you ; 

** And, on the contrary, whenever you differ in your opinion, 
your disagreement is a proof that you do not represent them 
such as they are, that you change them. 

*• Hence, also, it follows, that the causes of your disagree- 
ment exist not in the objects themselves, but in your minds, in 
your manner of perceiving or judging. 

♦* To establish, therefore, a uniformity of opinion, it is neces- 
sary first to establish the certainty, completely verified, that the 


portraits which the mind formfl are perfectly like the orig^inals : 
that it reflects the objects correctly as they exist. Now, this 
result can not be obtained but in those cases where the objects 
cao be brought to the test, and submitted to the examination of 
the senses. Everything which can not be brought to this trial 
is, for that reason alone, impossible to be determined ; there ex- 
ists 00 rule, no term of comparison, no means of certain^, re« 
Spectiog it. 

** From this we conclude, that, to live in harmony and peace* 
we must agree never to decide on such subjects, and to attach 
to them no importance ; in a word, we must trace a. line of 
distinction between those that are capable of verification, and 
those that are not, and separate, by an inviolable barrier, the 
world of fantastical beings from the world of realities«-that is 
to say, all civil effect must be taken away from theological and 
religious opinions. 

** This, O people ! is the object proposed by a great nation 
freed from her fetters and her prejudices. This is the work 
which, under her eye, and by her orders, we had undertaken 
when your kings and your priests came to interrupt it — O kings 
and priests ! you may suspend, yet for a while, the solemn pub- 
lication of the laws of nature ; but it is no longer in your power 
to annihilate or to subvert them.*' 

A general shout then arose from every part of the assembly; 
and the nations universally, and with one voice, testified their 
assent to the proposals of the legislator. ** Resume,'* said they, 
**your holy and sublime labors, and bring them to perfection! 
Investigate the laws which nature, for our guidance, has im- 
planted in our breasts, and collect from them an authentic and 
immutable code ; nor let this code be any longer for one family 
6nly, but for us all without exception ! Be the legislator of the 
whole human race, as you shall be the interpreter of nature 
herself. Show us the line of partition between the world of 
chimeras and that of realities ; and teach us, after so many reli- 
gions of error and delusion, the religion of evidence and truth !*• 

Then, the legislator having resumed his inquiry into the 
physical and constituent attributes of man, and examined the 
motives and affections which govern him in his individual and 
social state, unfolded in these words the laws 60 which nature 
herself has founded his happiness. 




QuesHan, What is the law of nature? 

Answer. It is the constant and regular order of facts, by which 
God governs the universe ; an order which his wisdom presents 
to the senses and to th6 reason of men, as an equal and common 
rule for their actions, to guide them^ without distinction of 
country or of sect, toward perfection and happiness. 

Q» Give a clear definition of the word law. 

A. The word law, taken literally, signifies lecture,* because 
originally ordinances and regulations were the lectures, prefera- 
bly to all others, made to the people, in order that they might 
observe them, and not incur the penalties attached to the infrac- 
tion of them ; whence follows the onginal custom explaining tha 
true idea. • 

The definition of law is, " An order or prohibition to act, with 
the express clause of a penalty attached to the infraction, or of 
a recompense attached to the observance of that order." 

Q. Do such orders exist in nature ? 

A. Yes. 

Q. What docs the word nature signify ? 

A. The word nature bears three different senses :— 

1st. It signifies the universe, the material world : in this first 
sense we say the beauty of nature, the richness of nature, that 

* From the Latin word to, leeHo. Alcoran likewise signifies leetiire« 
and is only a literal traaslatioii of tlie word law. 


is to say, the objects in the faeayens and on the earth exposed 
to our mght; 

2d]7. It signifies the power that animates, that moves the uni- 
yerse, considering it as a distinct being, such as the sonl is to 
the body : in this second sense we say, ** The intentions of na- 
ture, the incomprehensible secrets of nature ;" 

3dly. It signifies the partial operations of that power on each 
being, or on each class of beings ; and in this third sense we 
say, " The nature of man is an enigma ; every being acts ac- 
cording to its nature." 

Wherefore, as the actions of each being, or each species of 
beings, are subjected to constant and general rules, which can 
not be infringed without interrupting and troubling, the general 
or particular order, those rules of action and of motion are called 
natural laws, or laws of nature. 

Q. Give me examples of those laws* 

A. It is a law of nature that the sun illuminates successively 
the surface of the terrestrial globe ; that its presence causes both 
light and heat ; that heat, acting upon water, produces vapors ; 
that those vapors, rising in clouds into the regions of the air* 
dissolve into rain or sndVr, and renew incessantly the waters of 
fountains and of rivers. 

It is a law of nature that water flows downward ; that it en- 
deavors to find its level; that it is heavier than air; that all 
bodies tend toward the earth ; that flame ascends toward the 
heavens ; that it disorganizes vegetables and animals ; that adr 
is necessary to the life of certain animals ; that, in certain cir- 
cumstances, water suflbcates agd kills them ; that certain juices 
of plants, certain minerals, attack their organs, and destroy their 
life, and so on in a multitude of other instances. 

Wherefore, as all those and similar facts are immutable, con- 
stant, and regular, so many real orders result from them for man 
to conform himself to, with the express clause of punishment 
attending the infraction of them, or of welfare attending their 
observance. So that, if man pretends to see clear in darkness — 
if he goes in contradiction to the course of the seasons, or the 
action of the elements — if he pretends to remain under water 
without being drowned, to touch fire without burning himself, 
to deprive himself of air without being suffocated, to swallow 
poison without destroying him8elf«-4ie receives from each of 


those infractions of the laws of natnre a corporeal puidshnient 
proportionate to his fanlt ; but if, on the contrary, he observes 
and practises each of those tews accor^ng to the regular and 
exact relations they have to him, he preserres his existence, and . 
renders it as happy as it can ber: and as the only and common 
end of all those laws, considered relatively to mankind, is to pre- 
serre and render them happy, it has been agreed upon to reduce 
the idea to one simple expression, and to call them coHectiTely 
&e law of natnre. 



^ 'Q. What are the characters of the law of nature ? 

A, There can be assigned ten principal ones. 

Q. Which is the first ? 

A. To be inherent to the existence of things, and ccose- 
quently primitiTe and anterior to every other law ; so that all 
those which man has received are only- imitations of it, and their 
perfection is ascertained by the resemblance they bear to this 
primordial model. 

Q. Which is the second ? 

A» To be derived immediately from God, and presented by 
him to each man; whereas all other laws are presented to us by 
men, who may be either deceived or deceivers. 

Q. Which is the third ? 

A, To be common to all times, and to all countries, that is to 
say, one and universal. 

Q. Is no other law universal ? 

A. No ; for no other is agreeable or applicable to all the peo- 
ple of the earth : they are all local and accidental, originating 
from circumstances of places and of persons; so that, if such a 
man had not existed, or such an event happened, such a law 
would never have been enacted. 

Q. Which is the fourth character 1 

A, To be uniform and invariable. 

188 TKi0 L^W OF ^ATmUB^ 

<2* If w> 9th»r law unifimn aqd linrariaUe I 

A* No; for what i» good and virtue according t<> one» is evil 
and vice accordipg to another; and what one and the same law 
approves of at i>2xe time« it often condemns at 4iioth(9^« 

Q. Which is the fiifth:chariacter? 

rA' To be evident .and palpable,.becapae it cpmiists entirely of 
£icts incessantly present to ^e sensest and :to demonstratioxu 

Q* Are pot other laws evident ? . . 

A. No ; for they are founded on past and doubtful factSt on 
equivocal and suspicious testimonies, and on proofs inaccessible 
to the senses. 

Q. Which is the sixth character ? 

A. To be reasonable, because its precepts and entire doc* 
trme are conformable to reason, and to the human under- 

Q. Is no other law reasonable? 

A. No ; for all are in contradiction to the reason and the un- 
derstanding of men, and tyrannically impose on him a blind and 
impracticable belief. 

Q. Which is the seventh character? 

A* To be just, because inthat law, the penalties aro prppop- 
tionate to the infractions. 

Q. Are not other laws just I 

A, No ; for they often exceed bounds, either in rewarding 
deserts, or in punishing delinquencies, and consider as merito- 
rious or criminal, null or indifferent actions. 

Q. Which is the eighth character ? 

A* Tp be pacific and tolerant, because in the law of nature» 
all men being brothers and equal in rights, it recommends to 
them only peace and toleration, even for errors. 

Q. Are not other laws pacific ? 

A. No ; for all preach dissension, discord, and war, and 
divide mankind by exclusive prjBtensions of truth and domina* 

Q. Which is the ninth character ? 

A. To be equally beneficent to all men, in teaching them the 
true means of becoming better asd happier. 

Q. Are not other laws beneficent likewise ? 

A. No ; for none of them teach the real means of attaining 
happiness; all are confined to pernicious or fuUlo praetiees; and 

TMS LAW OF !KA!rxmB0 18d 

Ais is 0fide«t flom ftieti, mote aft«r bo nangr lanrt, to vmnf re- 
ligions, 80 many legislators and prophets, men are stiU as ii»> 
htippf and as igDoewt) 9$ <li^ were six; tkoiisMid years ago. 
" Q. Whteh is the last efaaratiter ^Che law of nature 1 
* A. That it is alone sufficiOBt to render men happier and bet' 
cer, because it comprises all that is good and nsefol in other 
laws, either civil or religiviis, that is to say, it constitutes essen- 
fIsUly the moral part of them;- so &at, if other laws were dl- 
irested of it, they woqM be reduced to chimerical and imaginary 
opinions, deroid of any practical utility. 
' Q. .Hecapitulate all those characters. 
A. We hare said that the law of nature is v^ 

1. Primitive; 6. Keasonable; 

2. Immediate; 7. Just; 

3. Universal; 8. Pacific; 

4. Invariable; 9. Beneficent; and 
6. Evident ;. 10. Alone sufficient. 

And such is the power of aQ these attributes of perfection and 
truth that, when in their disputes the theologians can agree upon 
no article of belief, they recur to the law of nature, the neglect 
of which (say they) forced God to send from time to timeprophets 
to proclaim new lows ; as if God enacted laws for particular 
circumstances, as men do, especially wheA the first subsists in 
such force, that we may assert it to have been at all times and 
In all countries die rule of conscience for every man of sense or 

Q. If, as you say, it eosanatiBs immediately k*om Ck>d, does it 
teach his existence ? 

A. Tes, most positively; for, to any man whatever, who ob« 
serves with reflection the astoofishing spectacle of the universe, 
the more he meditates on (he properties and attributes of each 
being, on^ the admirable order and harmony of their motions, 
the more it is demonstrated that there exists a supreme agent, 
a universal and identic mover, designated by the appellation of 
God ; and so true it is that the law of nature suffices to elevate 
him to the knowledge of God, that all which men have pretend- 
ed to know by supernatural means has constantly turned out 
ridiculous and absurd, and that they have ever been obliged to 
recur to the immutable conceptions of natural reason. 


Q. Th«titi»iiottmethtttheiblloweMoftfael»wofiwtam 
an atheists J 

A* No, it is not true ; on the eonttaiy, they entertain stronger 
and nobfer ideas of the Dlvinily than most other men ; for they 
do not sully him with the foul ingredients of all the weaknesses 
and passions enuiled on humanity. 

Q. What worship do they pay to him 1 

A^ Worship wholly of action : ^e praetice and obsenrance 
of all the rules which the supreme wisdom has imposed on tha 
motion of each being ; eternal and unalterable rules, by which 
it maintains the order and harmony of the universe, and which, 
in their relations to man, constitute the law of nature. 

Q. Was the law of nature known before this period ? 

A. It has been at all times spoken of: most legislators pretend 
to adopt it as the basis of their laws ; but they only quote somo 
of its precepts, and have had only vague ideas of its totality. 

Q. Why? 

A. Because, though simple in its basis, it forms in its devel- 
opments and consequences a complicated whole, which requires 
an extensive knowledge of facts, joined to all the sagacity of 

Q. Does not instinct alone teach the law of nature ? 

j1. No ; for by instinct is meant notjbing more than that blind 
sentiment by which we are actuated indiscriminately toward ev- 
erything that flatters the senses. 

Q. Why, then, is it said that the law of nature is engraved in 
the hearts of all men ? 

^. It is sud for two reasons i first, because it has been re* 
marked that there are acts and sentiments common to all 
men, and this proceeds from their common organization ; sec- 
ondly, because the first philosophers believed that men wen 
bom with ideas already formed, which is now demonstrated to 
be erroneous. 

Q. Philosophers, then, are fallible? « 

A, Yes, sometimes. 

Q. Why so? 

A, First, because they are men ; secondly, because the igno- 
rant call. all those who reason right or wrong philosophers; 
thirdly, because those who reason on many subjects, and who 
are the first to reason on them, are liable to be deceived. 


. Q. If the law of nature be not written, nuat it not becom* 

arbitraiy and ideal ? 

A. No ; bet^auae it conaiata entirely in facts, the demonstra- 
tion of which can be iocessantly renewed to the senses, and 
constitues a science as accurate and as precise as geometry and 
mathematics; and it is because the law of nature forms an exact 
science, that men, bom ignorant, and living inattentive and heed- 
less, have had hitherto only a superficial Jinowledge of it. 



Q, Explain the principles of the law of nature with relation 

A. They are simple ; all of them are comprised in one funda- 
mental and single precept. 

Q. What is that precept? 

A, It is self-preservation. 

Q. Is not happiness also a precept of the law of nature ? 

A, Yes; but as happiness is an accidental state, resulting 
only from the development of man*s faculties and his social sys- 
tem, it is not the immediate and direct object of nature ; it is, in 
some measure, a superflui^ annexed to the necessary and fun- 
damental object of preservation. 

Q. How does nature order man to preserve himself? 

A. By two powerful and involuntary sensations, which it has 
attached, as two guides, two guardian geniuses, to all his ac» 
tions : the one a sensation of pain, by which it admonishes him 
of, and deters him from, everything that tends to destroy him ; 
the other a sensation of pleasure, by which it attracts and car- 
ries him toward everything that tends to his preservation and the 
development of his existence. 

Q. Pleasure, therefore, is not an evil, a sin, as casuists pre* 

A> No, only inasmuch as it tends to destroy life and health 

193 TfiB LAW 0» KATUES. 

#1iich, by the avowal of those same casuists, we derive from God 

Q. Is pleasure the principal object of our existence, as some 
philosophers have asserted ? 

A. No, not more than pain; pleasure is an ipcitement to live, 
as pain is a repulsion from death. 

Q. How do you prove this assertion ? 

A. By two palpable facts : one, that pleasure, when taken 
immoderately, leads to destruction ; for instance, a man who 
abuses the pleasure of eating or drinking, attacks his health, 
and injures his life. The other, that pain sometimes leads 
to self-preservation ; for instance, a man who suffers a morti- 
fied member to be cut off, endures pain in order not to perish 
totally. . r . : . 

Q. But does not even this prove that our sensations can de- 
ceive us respecting tHe end of our preservation ? 

A. Yes ; they can momentarily. , 

Q. How do our sensations deceive us? 

A. In two ways : by ignorance, and by passion. . . . 

Q. When do they deceive us by ignorance ? 

A, When we act without knowing the action and effect of 
objects on our senses ; for example^ when a man touches nettles 
without knowing their stinging quality, or when he swallows 
opium without knowing its soporiferous effects. 
• Q. When do they deceive us by passion T , 

A. When, conscious of the pernicious action of objects, we 
abandon ourselves, nievertheless, to the impetuosity of our desires 
and appetites ; for example, when a man who knows that wine 
intoxicates, does nevertheless drink it to excess. 

Q. What is the result? 

A. It results that the ignorance in which we are bom, and 
the unbridled appetites to which we abandon ourselves, are con- 
trary Co our preservation « that consequently the instruction of 
our minds and the moderation of our passions are two obliga- 
tions, two laws, which derive immediately from the first law of 

Q. But if we are born ignorant, is not ignorance a law of na- 

A, No more than to remain in the naked and feeble state 
of infancy. Far from being a law of if^tiure, ignorance is ac 

Ipaw of VAaruw* 193 

oWtacIe to the pnctiee of all its laws* It is thfi real origi* 
oal 8U1. 

Q. Why, then, bitVe there been nuNoalistfl who have looked 
upon it as a virtue and a perfection ? 

A» Becmise, from a whimsieal or misaatbropical dispositioo, 
they have confounded the abuse of knowledge with knowledge 
ksetf ; as if, because mea abuse the power of speech, their 
tongues should be cut out ; as if perfection and virtue consisted 
ID the nullity, and not in (he developmeot and proper employ 
of our faculties. 

Q. Instruction is, therefore, indispensably aecessaiy to maa*fl 
existence ? 

j1« Yes, so ittdispensable, that without it he is evsoy instant 
assailed and wounded by all that surrounds him ; (or, if he does 
not know the effects of fire, he burns himself; those ^ watery 
he drowns himself; those of opium, he poisons himself: ii, 
in the savage state, he does not know the wiles of animalsj 
and the art of seizing game, he perishes through hunger ; if, 
in the social state, he does not know the course of the seasons, 
he can neither cultivate the ground, nor procure nourishment; 
and so on of all his actions, respecting all the wauls of his pres- 

Q. But can man separately by himself acquire all this knowl-; 
edge necessary to his existence, and to the development of his 
faculties ? 

A. No, not without the assistance of his fellow-men, and by 
living in society. 

Q. But is not society to man a state against nature? 

A. No ; it is, on the contrary, a necessity, a law, that nature 
imposed on him by the very act of his organization ; for, firstt 
nature has so constituted man, that he can not see his speciei 
of another sex without feeling emotions and an attraction, the 
consequences of which induce him to live in a family, which is 
already a state of society ; secondly, by endowing him with 
sensibility, she organized him so that the sensations of others 
reflect within him, and excite reciprocal sentiments of pleasure 
and of grief, which are attractions, end indissoluble ties of soci- 
ety ; thirdly and finally, the state of society, founded on the 
wants of man, is only a further means of fulfilling the law of 
prlMTvatioo t and to pretend that this state is out of naturoi 



became it is more perfect, u the same w to nji that a bitter 
and wild fruit of the forest is no longer the production of 
nature, when rendered sweet and delicious by cultivation in oiir 

Q. Why, then, hare philosophers called the savage state the 
state of perfection ? 

A» Because, as I have told you, the vulgar have often given 
the name of philosophers to whimsical geniuses, who, from n»* 
roseness, from wounded vanity, or from a disgust to the vices 
of society, have conceived chimerical ideas of the savage states 
in contradictlen with ^eir own system <»f a perfect nan. 

Q. What is the true meaning of the word philosopher ? 

A. The word philosopher signifies a lover <of wisdom ; 
wherefore, as wisdom consists in the practice of the laws of na- 
ture, the true philosopher is he who knows those laws exteo* 
sively and accurately, and who conforms the whole tenor of his 
conduct to them. 

Q. What is man in the savage state ? 

A» A brutal, ignorant animal, a wicked and ferocious beast, 
like bears and omng-outangs. 

Q. Is he happy in that state ? 

j1. No ; for he only feels momentary sensations ; and those 
sensations are habitually of violent wants which he can not satis- 
fy, since he is ignorant by nature, and weak by being insulated 
from his species. 

Q* Is he free? 

A. No ; he is the most abject slave that exists ; for his life 
depends on everything that surrounds him : he Is not free to eat 
when hungry, to rest when tired, to warm himself when cold; 
he is every instant in danger of perishing ; wherefore nature 
offers but fortuitous examples of such beings ; and we see that 
all the efforts of the human species, since its origin, solely tend 
to emerge from that violent state by the pressing necessity of 

Q. But does not this necessity of preservation engender in 
individuals egotism, that is to say, self-love? and is not egotism 
contrary to the social state ? 

A, No ; for, if by egotism you understand a propensity to 
nurt our neighbor, it is no longer selMove, but the hatred 
of ocheis. Self-love, taken in its true sense, not only is dot 

Tfifi liAW OF KATTTRB. 1^ 

tM^nry to society, but is its firmest soppott, by the necessity 
we lie under of not injuring others, lest in return they should 
mjure us. 

Thus man*s preserration, and the unfolding of his faculties, di- 
rected toward this end, are the frue law of nature in the produc- 
tion of the human bemg : and it is from this Simple and fruitful. 
jRinciple that are derived, are referred, and in Its scale are 
weighed, all ideas of good and evil, of vice and virtue, of just 
and unjust, of truth or error, of lawful or forbidden, on which 
is founded the monlity of individual, or of social man. 



Q. What is good according to the law of nature ? 

A. It is everything that tends to preserve an'4 perfect man. 

Q. What IS evil? 

A. It is everything that tends to maQ*s destruction or deteri- 

Q. What is meant by physical good and evil, and by moral 
good and evil ? 

j1. By the word pbystcal is understood whatever acts imme- 
diately on the body. Health is a physical good, and sickness a 
physical evil. By moral is meant what acts by consequences, 
more or less remote. Calumny is a moral evil ; a fair reputa- 
tion is a moral good ; because both one and the other occasion 
toward us, on the part of other men, dispositions and habitudes,* 
which are useful or hurtful to ou^ preservation, and which at- 
tack or favor our means of existence. 

Q. Everything that tends to preserve, or to produce is there- 
fore a good. 

A' Yes ; and it is for that reason that certain legislators have 

* It is from this word Aaftdudet (reiterated actions), in Latin morc^ 
dmt the word moral, and oil its fiimily, orederived. 

196 THB hAW or KAVnp». 

dnsMd amoDg th* work* agweabU to the dlTimtj* tbe cuUivab* 
ttOQ of a field and the feciindU|r of a woman* 

Q. Whatever tends to give death is, therefore, as evil? 

A» Yes ; and it is for that reason some legislators have ex- 
tended the idea of evil and of ein oTea to th^ mnrderiog of ani<> 

Q. The murd^ing of a man i% therefore, a crime in the law 
of nature? 

A. Yes, and the greatest that can be committed; for eveiy 
other eviLean be repaired* but murder alone is irreparable. 

Q. What is a sin in the law of nature ? 

A. It is whatever tends to trouble the order established 
by nature for the preservation and perfection of man and of so- 

Q. Can intention be a merit or a crime ? 

A. No ; for it is only an idea void of reality : but it is a com« 
mencement of sin and evil, by the tendency it gives toward ac- 

Q. What is virtue according to thelaw of nature ? 

A. It is the practice of actions useful to the individual and to 

Q, What is meant by the word individual 1 

A. It means a man considered separately from every other. 

Q, What is vice according to the law of nature ? 

A. It is the practice of actions prejudicial to the individual 
and to society. 

Q* Have not virtue and vice an object purely spiritual and 
abstracted from the senses ? 

A. No ; it is always to a physical end that they finally relate, 
and that end is always to destroy or preserve the body. 

Q. Have vice and virtue degrees of strength and tntenee- 
ness ? 

A, Yes ; according to the importance of the faculties whieh 
they attack, or which they favor ; and according to tbe num- 
ber of individuals in whom those faculties are jfavored or in- 

Q. Give me some examples. 

A. The action of saving a man*s life is more virtuous than 
that of saving his property ; the action of saving the lives of ten 
men, than that of saving ooiy the life of one ; and an action um!*- 


ful to the whole human race w mora vlnnons than an aedoa 
that h only usefol to one siagle nation. 

Q. How does the law of nature praacribe the pnetice of good 
%nd Tirtne, and forbid that of evil and viee ? 

A. By the very adtantages rasahing from the practice of 
good and virtue for the preservation of our body, and by the 
losses which result to our existence from the practice of evil 
and vice. 

Q. Its preoepti are, then, in action ? 

A* Yes, they are action Itself, considered in its present effiict 
and m its future consequences. 

Q. How do you divide the virtues ? 

A» We dmde them into three classes s— 

1. Individual virtues, as relative to man alone; 

2. Domestic virtues, as relative to a family ; 

3. Social virtues, as relative to society. 



Q. Which are the individual virtues ? 
A. They are five principal ones, to wit : — 

1. Science, which comprises prudence and wisdom ; 

2. Temperance, comprising sobriety and chastity; 

3. Courage, or strength of boify and mind ; 

4. Activity, that is to say, love of labor and employment of 

5. And finally, cleanliness, or purity of body, as well in dreii 
as in habitation. 

Q. How does the law of nature prescribe science ? 

A> Because the man acquainted with the causes and effects 
of things attends in an extensive and sure manner to his presei^ 
▼atibn, and to the development of his faculties. Smbnce is to 
him the eye and the light, which enable him to discern elearij 
and accurately all the objeete with which he is conversantt and 
hence by an enlightened maa is meant a learned md welKii»> 


formed man. With scienee and int^metion a mdH never waati 
for resources and means of soMstence ; and npoa this principle 
a philosopher, who had been shipwrecked, Slid to his eeropan- 
ions, that were inconsolable for the lose of their wealth : '* For 
my part, I cany aA my wealth within me." 

Q. Which b the vice contrary to science ? 

A. It is ignorance. 

Q. How does the law of nature forbid ignorance ? 

A. By the grievous detriments resulting from it to our exist- 
ence ; for the ignorant man, who knows neither causes nor ef- 
fects, commits every instant errors most pemicions to himself 
and to others ; he resembles a blind man groping his way at 
random, and who, at everjatep, jostles or is jostled by every one 
he meets. 

Q. What difference is there between an ignorant and a silly 

A* The same difference as between him who frankly avows 
his blindness and the blind man who pretends to sight ; silliness 
is the reality of ignorance, to which is superadded the vanity of 

Q. Are ignorance and silliness common ? 

A. Yes, very common ; they are the usual and general dis- 
tempers of mankind : more than three thousand years ago the 
wisest of men said, " The number of fools is infinite ;" and the 
world has not changed. 

Q. What is the reason of it ? 

A. Because much labor and time are necessary to acquire in- 
struction, and because men, bom ignorant, and averse to troublct 
find it more convenient to remain blind, and pretend to see 

Q. What difference is there between a learned and a wide 

A> The learned knows, and the wise man practises. 

Q. What is prudence ? 

A. It is the anticipated perception, the foresight of the ejects 
and consequences of every action ; by means of which foresight 
man avoids the dangers which threaten him, while he seizes on 
and creates opportunities favorable to him : he thereby provides 
for his present and future safety in a certain and extensive man- 
ner, whereas the imprudent man, who calculates neither hm 


itefM oor hit. conduct, nor effortSi nor resUtaoce, falls every in- 
stast into a ibousaod difficulties and dangers, which sooner or 
later impair his faculties and destroy his existence. 

Q. When the Gospel says, '' Happy are the poor of spirit,** 
does it mean the ignorant and imprudent ? 

A. No ; for, at the same time that it recommends the sim-» 
plicity of doves, it adds the prudent cunning of serpents. By 
simplicity of mind is meant uprightness, and the precept of the 
Gospel is that of nature. 



Q, What is temperance ? 

A* It is a regular use of our faculties, which makes us nc?et 
exceed in our sensations the end of nature, to preserve us ; it !• 
the moderation of the passions. 

Q. Which is the vice contrary to temperance ? 

A^ The disorder of the passions, the avidity of all kind of en< 
joyments, in a word, cupidity. 

Q. Which are the principal branches of temperance 1 

A. Sobriety, and continence or chastity. 

Q. How does the law of nature prescribe sobriety ? 

A. By its powerful influence over our health. The sober 
man digests with comfort ; he is not overpowered by the weight 
of alimenu; his ideas are dear and easy; he fulfils all his 
.functions propeiiy; he conducts his business with intelligence; 
his old age is exempt from infirmity ; he does not spend his 
money in remedies, and he enjoys, in mirth and gladness, the 
wealth which chance and his own prudence have procured him* 
Thus, from one virtue alone, generous nature derives innumera- 
JUe recompenses. 

Q. How does it prohibit gluttony ? 

A. By the numerous evils that are attached to it. The glut- 
ton, oppressed with alimieots, digests with anxiety ; his head* 

SOO l^fitB LAW OF NATtntB. 

troubled by the fnmea of indigestion, is incapable of cooeeiving 
elear and distinct ideas; be abandons himself with Tiol^ice to 
the disorderly impulse of lust and anger, which impair his 
health; his body becomes bloated, heavy, and undt for la- 
bor; he endures painful and expensiTC distempers; he sel- 
dom lives to be old ; and his age is replete with infirmities and 

Q, Should abstinence and fasting be conridered as virtuous 
actions ? 

A, Yes, when one has eaten too much ; for then abstinence 
and fasting are simple and efficacious remedies ; but when the 
body is in want of aliment, to refuse it any, and let it suffer from 
hunger or thirst, is delirium, and a real sin against the law of 

Q. How is drunkenness considered in the law of nature? 

A* As a roost vile and pernicious vice. The drunkard, de- 
prived of the sense and reason given us by God, profanes the 
donations of the Divinity ; he debases himself to the condition 
of brutes ; unable even to guide his steps, he staggers and falls, 
as if he were epileptic ; he hurts and even risks killing him- 
self; his debility in this state exposes him to the ridicule and 
contempt of every person that sees him; he makes, in his 
drunkenness, prejudicial and ruinous bargains, and injures his 
fortune ; he makes use of opprobrious language, which creates 
him enemies and repentance ; he fills his house with trouble 
and sorrow, and ends by a premature death, or by a cacocbymi- 
eal old age. 

Q. Does the law of nature interdict absolutely the use of 

A. No ; it only forbids the abuse ; but as the transition from 
the use to the abuse is easy and prompt among the generality 
of men, perhaps the legislators, who have proscribed the use of • 
wine, have rendered a service to humanity. 

Q. Does the law of nature forbid the use of certain kinds of 
meat, or of certain vegetables, on particular days, during certain 

A, No ; it absolutely forbids only whatever is injurious to 
health ; its precepts. In this respect, vaiy according to persons, 
and even constitute a very delicate and important science; for 
the quality, the quanti^, and the conibination of aliments, have 


liMT fieaMst iofluettcet oot only over the ta9mmjaUty ^JgectkuM 
of the soul, but even o^er itt habitcial diapoutioD* A ibao 19 
Dot the same fastiog as after, a mealt eireo if he were sober. A 
gfcas of spirkiibiu liquor, or a dish of^eolfee, gives degrees of vi- 
wmcltf-y 4»f mobillcy, af dispositioD to anger^ sadness, or gay^Qr t 
•BCfa a mektt because it lies heavy on the stoinaeh, ot^enden 
ftioro«siM8s andmelaiK^ly ; such another, because it facilitates 
digestion, creates sprightlioess, and an. inclination to oblige: and 
to love. . Thonss of vegetables^ because they have httk nour* 
iidiineiit, enfeebles the body, and gives a disposition to reposoi 
indateDce, and ease; the^ias of meat, beeause it is. full of nour* 
ishment, md of spirituous liquors* because they stimulate the 
nerves, creates vivacity, uneasiness, and audacity. N<fw from 
those habitudes of aliment result habits of constitution and of 
tiie orgahs, which form afterward difierent kinds of tempera- 
ments, each of. which is distinguished by a peculiar character* 
istic. And it is for this reason that« in hot countries especially, 
legislators liave, made laws respecting regimen or lbod» The 
ancients were taught by long experience that the dietetic soi* 
ence constituted a considerable part of morality ; among the 
figyptians, the ancient Persians, and ev«n among the.Greeks« 
at the Areopagus, imponailt iif&m w<ire examined* fasting ; and 
k has been remarked that, among those pei^le, where publie 
affairs were discussed during the heat of mea^ and the fumes 
of digestion* ileliberatioDs were hasty and violent* and the results 
of them frequently unreasonable, and productive of tUEbjolenoe 
and confusion. 



Q. Does the law of nature prescribe continence ? 

A, Yes ; because a moderate use of the most lively of pleas* 
ures is not only useful, but indispensable to the support of strength 
and health ; and because a simple calculation proves that, for 


iome miiiQtet of privation, yom increase tlie number of yoUr 
dajB, both in vigor of body and of mind. 

Q. How does it forbid Hbertinitm ? 

j1. B j tfao nnmcroue evils which result frcmi it to the physi* 
eal and the moral existence, fie who carries it to aa excess 
enervates and pines away ; be can do longer attend to study or 
labor ; he contracts idle and expensive habits, which destroy 
his means of existence, his public connderation, and his. credit ^ 
bis intrigues occasion continual embarrassment, cares, quar* 
rels, and lawsuits, without mentioning the grievous deep* 
rooted distempers, and the loss of his strength by im inward and 
slow poison : the stupid dulness of his mind, by the exhaust* 
Ion of the nervous system ; and, in fine, a premature and infirm 
old age. 

Q. Does the law of nature look on that absolute chastity so 
recommended in monastical institutions as a virtue? 

A. No ; for that chastity is of no use either to the society 
that witnesses, or the individual who practises it ; it is even 
prejudicial to both. 

First, it injures society by depriving it of population, which 
Is one of its principal sources of wealth and power ; and as 
bachelors confine all their views and afiections to the term of 
their lives, they have, in general, an egotism unfavorable to the 
interests of society. - 

In the second place, it injures the individuals who praetise 
It, because it deprives them of a number of affections and 
relations which are the springs of most domestic and social 
rirtues ; and besides, it often happens, from circumstances of 
age, regimen, or temperament, that absolute continence injures 
the constitution, and causes severe diseases, because it is con- 
trary to the physical laws on which nature has founded the 
^stem of the reproduction of beings ; and they who recom* 
mend so strongly chastity, even supposing them to be sincere, 
are in contradiction with their own doctrine, wbi^ consecrates 
the law of nature by the well-known commandment, ** Increase 
and multiply." 

Q. Why is chastity considered a greater virtue in women 
than in men ? 

A. Because a want of chastity in women is attended with in- 
conveniences much more serious and dangerous for them and 


for society ; for» without taking into account the paim and 
diseases they have in common with the men, they are further 
exposed to all the disadvantages and perils that precede, at- 
tend, and follow child-birth. When pregnant contrary to law, 
they become an object of public scandal and contempt, and 
spend the remainder of their lives in bitterness and misery. 
Moreover, the expense of maintaining and educating their 
fatherless children falls on them; which expense impover- 
ishes them, and is every way prejudicial to their physical and 
moral existence. In this situation, de|mved of the freshness 
and health that constitute their charms, carrying with them an 
extraneous and expensive burden, they are less prized by meU, 
Ihey find no solid establishment, they fall into poverty, misery, 
and wretchedness, and thus drag on in sorrow their unhappy 

Q. Does the law of nature ext^id so far as the scruples of 
desires and thoughts ? 

A. Yes; because, in the physical laws of the human body, 
thought^ and desires inflame the senses, and soon provoke to 
action : now, by another law of nature in ths organization of our 
body those actions become mechanical wants, which recur at 
certain peiiods of days or of weeks, so that at such a time the 
want is r^iewed of sueh an action and such a secreUon ; if this 
action and (his secretion be injurious to health, the habitude c^ 
them becomes destructive^ of life itseiCl Thus thoughts and 
desires have a true and natural importance. 

Q. Shoukl modesty be considered asa vivtiie ? 

A. Yes ; because modesty, inasmuch as it is a shame of cer* 
tain actions, mabitains the soul and body in all those habits use* 
ful to good order, and to seU^preservation. The modest woman 
is esteemed, courted, and established, with advantages of fo^> 
tune which insure her existence, and render it agreeable to her, 
while the inunodest and prostitute are despised, repulsed, and 
abandoned to miseiy and infamy. 

«H8 'LAW OP nATjmK. 



Q. Are contage and strength of body and mind vfames in the 
kw of nature? 

' A, YeSt nnd moet kopoitant virtues ; for they are the effi<»i» 
oious and indispensable means of attending to our preservation 
and welfare. The courageous and strong man repulses oppres* 
sion, defends his life, his liberty, and his property \ by his labor 
he procvies himself an abundant sobsistenee, which ho enjoys 
in tranquillity and> peace of mind. If he fails into misfortmiest 
from which his prudence could not protect him, he supports 
them with foslicudaand resignation; and it is for this reason 
that the ancient moralists have neckoned strength and courage 
among the four principal virtues. 

Q. Should weakness and cowardice be considered* as nees 9 

A. Yes, since it is certain that they produce imtum^rable ca» 
lamities. The weak or cowardly man lives in perpetual cares 
and agonras ; he undermines his health by the dread, oftentimes 
ill founded, of attacks and dangers ; and this dread, which is an 
evil, is not a remedy ; it renden him, on the ctNitraty, the skive 
of him who wishes to oppress him ; and by the seirvitacle and 
debasement of ail his faculties, It degrades and diminishes his 
Bwans of existence, so far as the seeing his life depend on the 
will and caprice of another man. v 

Q. But, after what you have said on. the inflttence of all* 
ments, are not courage and ibrce, asivell as many other virtues^ 
in a great measure the effect of our physical oenstitu^on and 
temperament? . 

A, Yes, it is true ; and so far, that those qualities are trans* 
mitted by generation and blood, with the elements on which 
they depend : the most reiterated and constant facts prove that, 
in the breed of animals of every kind, we see certain physical 
and moral qualities, attached to the individuals of those species, 


inerisase and decay, ncGordiog to dw coaUoatioi» and mixtures 
they make with other breeds. 

Q. But, then, at our will ia not anffieieat to procwa w thoae 
qasdities, i»it a erime to bo deatitute of them ? 

A. Not it 4a luM a etime, bat a miafortune ; it Is what tha am* 
dMta call fat nnkio^f fatalitf ; but evwt than wo have it yet in 
oar power to aoqoirothem ; ^ as aoon aa we koow on what 
physical Omenta aacfa or anoh a qoaHty ia foaoded, we aaai 
promote its gi«wth, aud accderate ita derdopments« by a skil* 
fol mmiagemeiit of those elements ; aod in this eonsista the ad* 
ence of education, which, according as it is directed, meliorates 
or degradea indiYiduala, or the whole race, to sjich a pitch, aa 
totally to change their nature and inclinations; for which- raik* 
son it is of the greatest impoitaaco to be acquainted with the 
laws of BatDve by which those operationa and changes are cer- 
tainly and necessarily efiectad. 

Q. Why do yon say that activity is a virtue according to tho 
law of natnre ? 

A. Because the man who works and employs his time usor 
fully, derives from it a thousand precious advantages to his ex- 
istence. If he is born poor, his labor furnishes him with sub- 
sistence ; and still more so, if he is sober, continent, and pru- 
dent, for he soon acquires a competency, and enjoys the sweets 
of life : his very labor gives him virtues ; for, while he occupies 
his body and mind, he Is not afieated with unruly desires, time 
does not lie heavy on him, he contracts mild habits, he aug- 
ments his strength and health, and attains a peaceful and happy 
old age. 

Q. Are idleness and sloth vices in the law of nature ? 

A, Yes, and the most pernicious of all vices, for they lead to 
all the others. By idleness and sloth man remains ignorant, he 
forgets even the science he had acquired, and falls into all the 
misfortunes which accompany ignorance and folly; by idleneas 
and sloth man, devoured with disquietude, in order to dissipate 
it, abandons himself to all the desires of his senses, which, !>•> 
coming every day more inordinfite, render him intemperato, 
gluttonous, lascivious, enervated, cowsudly, vile, and contempt!- 
ble. By the certain effect of all those vices, he ruins his fortune, 
consumes his health, and terminates his life in all the agonies 

of sickness and of poverty. 



<i. Ffom wliat yon m^i one wouM thiek tbat poverty was a 

A. No, it is BoC a viee; but it w ttiU lets arirtne, for it ia by 
far more ready to lojure than to- be useful ; it is even commoDly 
the result, or the beginning of viee, for the eflfect of all Individ- 
sal vices is to lead to indigenee, and to the privation of the ne« 
eessaries of life ; and when a man is in want of necessaries, he 
is tempted to procure them by vicions meaBs« that is to say, by 
means injurious to society. All the individual virtues tend, on 
die contrary, to., procure to a man an abundant subsistence ; 
and when he has more than he can consume, it is much easier 
for him to giv^ to others, and to practise the actions useful to 

Q. Do you look upon opulence as a virtue 1 

A* No ; but still less as a vice : it is the use alone of wealth 
that can be called virtuous or vicious, according as it is service* 
able or prejudicial to man and to society. Wealth is an instni* 
ment the use and employment alone of which determine its 
irirtue or vice. 



Q. Wht is cleanliness included among the virtues ? 

A* Because it is, in reality, one ot the most important among 
them, on account of its powerful influence over the health and 
preservation of the body. Cleanliness, as well in dress as in 
lesidence, obviates the pernicious effects of the humidity, bane- 
ful odors, and contagious exhalations, proceeding from all things 
abandoned to putrefaction : cleanliness maintains free transpira- 
tion ; it renews the air, refreshes the blood, and disposes even 
the mind to cheerfulness. 

■ From this, it appears that persons attentive to the cleanliness 
of their bodies and habitations are, in general, more healthy, 
and less subject to disease, than those who live in filth and nasti- 


neis ; and it is further remarked, that cleanliness carries with 
it, throughout all the branches of domestic administration, hab« 
Its of order and arrangement, which are the chief means and 
first elements of happiness. 

Q. Uncleanliness or filthiness is, therefore, a real vice ? 

A* Yes, as real a one as drunkenness, or as idleness, from 
which in a great measure it is derived. Uncleanliness is the 
second, and often the first, cause of many inconveniences, and 
even of grievous disorders; it is a fact^ in medicine, that it brings 
on the itch, the scurf, tetters, and leprosies, as much as the use 
of tainted or sour aliments ; that it favors the contagious influ- 
ence of the plague and malignant fevers, that it even produces 
them in hospitals and prisons ; that it occasions rheumatisms, 
by incrusting the skin with dirt, and thereby preventing trans- 
piration ; without reckoning the shameful inconvenience of be- 
ing devoured by vermin, the foul appendage of misery and de- 

Most ancient legislators, therefore, considered cleanliness, 
which they called purity, as one of the essential dogmas of their 
religions : it was for this reason that they expelled from society, 
and even punished corporeally those who were infected with 
distempers produced by uncleanliness ; that they instituted and 
consecrated ceremonies of ablutions, baths, baptisms, and of 
purifications, even by fire and the aromatic fumes of incense, 
myrrh, benjamin, etc. ; so that the entire system of pollutions, 
all those rites of clean and unclean things, degenerated since 
into abuses and prejudices, were only founded originally on the 
judicious observation, which wise and learned men had made, 
of the extreme influence that cleanliness in dress and abode ex- 
ercises over the health of the body, and by an immediate con- 
sequence over that of the mind and moral faculties. 

Thus all the individual virtues have for their object, more or 
less direct, more or less near, the preservation of the man who 
practises them ; and by the preservation of each man, they lead 
to that of families and society, which are composed of the uni- 
ted sum of individuals. 




Q. What do you mean by domestic virtues ? 

A, I mean the practice of actions useful to a family, supposed 
to live in the same bouse.* 

Q. What are those virtues ? 

A. They are economy, paternal love, conjugal love, filial love, 
fraternal love, and the accomplishment of the duties of master 
and servant. 

Q. What is economy ? 

A, It is, according to the most extensive meaning of the word, 
the proper administration of everything that concerns the exist- 
ence of the family or house ; and as subsistence holds the first 
rank, the yrord economy is confined to the employment of money 
for the first wants of life. 

Q. Why is economy a virtue ? 

A, Because the man who makes no useless expenses acquires 
a superabundancy, which is true wealth, and by means of which 
he procures for himself and his family everything that is really 
convenient and useful ; without mentioning his securing thereby 
resources against accidental and unforeseen losses, so that he 
and his family enjoy an agreeable and undisturbed competency, 
which IS the basis of human felicity. 

Q. Dissipation and prodigality, therefore, are vices ? 

A, Yes ; for by them iiian, in the end, is deprived of the ne- 
cessaries of life ; he falls into poverty and wretchedness ; and 
his very friends, fearing to be obliged to restore to him what he 
has spent with or for them, avoid him as a debtor does his cred- 
itor, and he remains abandoned by the whole world. 

Q. What is paternal love ? 

A> It is the assiduous care taken by parents to make theh 

^ Domestic Is derived from the Latin word domu$, a house 


^idreo eoDtfact tfae halik of evevy actioii nsefal to themselves 
and to society. 

Q. Why is paternal tenderaess a viitne in parents? 

A, Because parents, who rear their children in those habits, 
procure for themselves, daring the coarse of their lives, enjoy* 
ments and helps that give a sensible satisfaction at eveiy instant, 
and which assnre to them, when advanced in years, supports 
and consolations against the wants and calamities of all kinds 
with which old age is beset 

Q. Is paternal love a common virtue ? 

A, No : notwithstanding the ostentation made of it by pa- 
rents, it is a rare virtue ; they do not love their children, they 
caress akid spoil them ; in them they love only the agents of 
their will, the. instruments of their power, the trophies of their 
vanity, the pastime of their idleness : it is not so much the wel- 
fare of their children that they propose to ^mselves, as their 
mbmission and obedience ; and if among children so many are 
•een ungratefol for benefits receiTed, it is because there are among 
parents as many despotic and ignorant benefactors. 

Q* Why do you say that conjugal love is a virtue ? 

A. Because the concord and union resulting from the love of 
the married, establish in tfae heart of the family a multitude of 
habits useful to its prosperity and preservation* The united 
pair are attached to, and seldom quit their home ; they super- 
intend each particular direction of it; they attend to the edaca- 
iSon of their children ;. theyioaintaio the respect and fidelity of 
domestics; they ptevent ail disorder and dissipation; and from 
the whole of their good condnct, diey live in ease and consid* 
eration ; while married persons, who do not love one another, 
fill their house with quarrels and troubles, create dissension be- 
tween their children and the servants, leaving both indiscrimi- 
nately to all kinds of vicious habits ; every one in turn spoils, 
jrobs, and plunders the house : the revenues are absorbed with- 
i>ut profit; debts accumulate; the married pair avoid each other, 
w contend in lawsuits; and the whole fiimily fulls into disorder, 
ruin, disgrace, and want. 

Q. Is adultery an ofience in the law of nature ? 

A' Yes; for it is attended with a number of habits inJtH 
ji^t$r to the married, and to their families. The wife or faitt- 

210 *HB LAW or NAinTSB. 

band, whose affectioiM aw cattanged, neglect their house, avoid 
it, and deprive it, as much as they can, of its reveiraes, or in- 
come, to expend them with the object of their affections; hence 
arise quarrels, scandal, lawsuits, the neglect of their children 
and servants, and at last the plandering and ruin of the whole 
family ; without reckoning that the adulterous woman corn* 
miu a most grievous theft, in jpving to her husband heita of 
foreign blood, who deprive his real childieii of their legitimate 

Q. What is filial love ? 

A. It is, on the side of children, the practice of those actions 
useful to themselves and to their parents. 

Q. How does the law of nature prescribe filial love? 

A, By three principal motives : — 

1. By sentiment; for the affectionate care of parents majMres, 
torn the most tender age, mild habits of attachment; 

2. By justice ; for children owe to th^ir parents a return and 
indemnity for the cares, and even for the expenses, they have 
caused them. 

3. By personal interest; for, if they use them ill, they give 
to their own children examples of revolt and ingratitude, which 
authorize them, at a future day, to behave to themselves in a 
similar manner. 

Q. Are we to understand by filial love a passive and blmd sub- 

A. No ; but a reasonable submission, founded on the knowl- 
edge of the mutual rights and duties of parents and children ; 
rights and duties, without the obaervance of which their mutual 
conduct is nothing but disorder. * 

Q. Why is fraternal love a virtue ? 

A. Because the concord and union, which result from the 
love of brothers, establish the strength, security, and conserva- 
tion of the family : brothers united defend themselves against 
alhoppressioo, they aid one another in their wants, they help 
one another in their misfortunes, and thus secure their com* 
mon existence; while brothers disunited, abandoned each to^ 
his own personal strength, fall into all the inconveniences 
attendant on an insulated state and individual weakness. This 
li what a certain Scythian king ingeniously expressed when. 


on his death-bed, callisg h'w children to him, he ordered 
them to break a handle of anrowa ; the young men, though 
strong, being unable to effect it, he took them in his turn, and 
untyifig them, broke each of the arrows separately with his 
fingers. '* Behold,*' said he, ^the effects of union; united to- 
g«ther, you will be invincible; taken separately, you will be 
brokeo like reeds. 

Q. What are the reciprocal duties of masters and of ser- 
vants ? 

A. They consist in die practice of the actions which are 
respectively and justly useful to them; and here begin the 
relations of society ; for the rule and measure of those re* 
.specdve actions is the equilibrium or equali^ between the 
service and tho recompense, between what the one returns 
and the other gives ; which is the fundamental basis of all so 

Thus all the domestic and individual virtues refer, more or 
less mediately, but always with certitude, to the physical object 
of the amelioration and preservation of man, and are thereby 
precepts resulting from the fundamental law of nature in his 



. Q. What is society ? 

A* It is every reunion of men living together under the clauses 
of an expressed or tacit contract, which has for its end their com* 
mon preservatiop. 

Q. Are the social virtues numerous ? 

A^ Yes; they are in as great number as the kinds of ao 
tions useful to society ; but all may be reduced to one only 


Q. What is that ftrndameotal prindple ? 

A. It is justice, which alone comprises alt llie Tirtnes of 

Q. Why do you say that justice is the fundamental and a1-> 
most only yirtue of society ? 

. A. Because it alone embraces the practice of all the actions 
useful to it ; and because all the other virtues, under the denom- 
inations of charity, humanity, probity, love of one's countiy, 
sincerity, generosity, simplicity of manners, and modesty, are 
only varied forms and diversified applications of the axiom, ^Dq 
not to another what you would not wish to be done to your- 
self,*' which is the definition of justice. 

Q. How does the law of nature prescribe justice? 

A, By three physical attributes, mherent in th^ organization 
of man. 

Q. What are those attributes? 

A* They are equality, liberty, and property. 

Q. How is equality a physical attribute of man ? 

A* Because all men, having equally eyes, hands, montns, 
ears, and the necessity of mailing use of them, in order to 
live, have, by this reason alone, an equal right to life, and ta 
the use of the aliments which maintain it ; they are all equal 
before God. 

Q. Do you suppose that all men hear equally, see equally, 
feel equally, have equal wants, and equal passions ? 

A. No ; for it is evident, and daily demonstrated, that one 
is short, and another long-sighted; that one eats much, an- 
other little ; that one has mild, another violent passions ; in a 
word, that one is weak in body and mind, while- another is 
strong in both. 

Q. They are, therefore, really unequal ? 

A, Yes, in the development of their means, but not in the 
nature and essence of those means ; they are made of the same 
stuff, but not in the same dimensions ; nor are the weight and 
value equal. Our language possesses no one word capable of 
expressing the identity of nature, and the diversity of its form 
and employment. It is a proportional equality ; and it is for 
this reason I have said, equal before God, and in the order of. 


Q. How w liberty a physical attribute of man ? 

A» Because all men haying senses sufficient for their preser- 
vation — ^no one wanting the eye of another to see, his ear to 
hear, his mouth to eat, his feet to walk — ^they are all, by this 
veiy reason, constituted naturally independent and free; no man 
is necessarily subjected to another, nor has he a right to domi- 
neer over him. 

Q. But if a man is born strong, has he not a natural right to 
waster the weak man ? 

A. No ; for it is neither a necessity for him, nor a conrentiOB 
between them ; it is an abusive extension of his streDgth ^ and 
here an made of the word right, which in its true mean- 
ing implies justice, or reciprocal faculty. 

Q« How is property a f^ysical attribute of man ? 

A» Inasmuch as all men being constituted equal or similar to 
one another, and consequently independent and free, each is the 
absolute master, the full proprietor of his body, and of the prod- 
uce of his labor* 

Q* How is justice derived from these three attributes ? 

A. In this, that men being equal and free, owing nothing to 
each other, have no right to require anything from one another, 
only inasmuch as they return an equal value for it, or inasmuch 
as the balance of what is given is in equilibrium with what is 
returned ; and it is this equality, this equilibrium, which is called 
justice, equity;* that is to say, that equality and justice are but 
one and the same word,4he same law of nature, of which the 
•ocial virtaea are only applications and derivatives. 

*JEquiUUf aquUQnrium^ aquaHiOBf are bU of the same &iaily. 




Q. ExriiAiN how the social yirtues are derived from the law 
of nature. How is chari^ or the love of one's neighbor a |ire- 
cept and application of it 1 

A. Bj reason of equality and reciprocity; for, when we in* 
jure another, we give him a right to injure us in return : thufl» 
by attacking the existence of our neighbor, we endanger our 
own, from the effect of reciprocity ; on the other hand, by doing 
good to others, we hare room and right to expect an equivalent 
exchange ; and such is the character of all the sodal virtues^ 
that they are useful to the man who practises them, by the right 
of reciprocity which they give him over those who have benefited 
by them. 

Q. Charity is then nothing but justice ? 

A. No, it is only justice; with this slight difference, that 
strict justice confines itself to saying, Do not to another the 
harm you would not wish he should do to you; and that chari- 
ty, or the love of one's neighbor, extends so far as to say. Do to 
another the good which you would wish to receive from him. 
Thus, when the Gospel said Uiat this precept contained the 
whole of the law and the prophets, it announced nothing more 
than the precept of the law of nature. 

Q. Does it enjoin forgiveness of injuries ? 

A. Yes, inasmuch as that forgiveness is consistent with self- 

Q. Does it prescribe to us, after having received a blow on 
one cheek, to hold out the other ? 

A* No ; for it is, in the first place, contrary to the precept of 
loving our neighbors as ourselves, since thereby we should 
love, more than ourselves, him who makes an. attack on our 
preservation. Secondly, such a precept, in its literal sense, en* 
courages the wicked to oppression and injustice : the law of 


nattire has been more wise in prescribing a calculated propor- 
tion of courage and moderation, which induces ns to forget a 
first or unpremeditated injury, but which punishes every act 
tending to oppression. 

Q* Does the law of nature prescribe to do good to others be* 
yond the bounds of reason and measure ? 

A- No ; for it is a sure way of leading them to ingratitude. 
Such is the force of sentiment and injustice implanted in the 
heart of man, that he is not eren grateful for benefits conferred 
without discretion. There is one only measure with them, and 
that is to be just. 

Q. Is almsgiving a virtuous action ? 

j1. Yes, when it is practised according to the rule first men« 
tinned; without which it degenerates into imprudence and vice, 
inasmuch as it encourages laziness, which is hurtful to the beg- 
gar and to society; no one has a right to partake of the property 
and fruits of another's labor, without rendering an equivalent 
of his own industry. 

Q. Does the law of nature consider as virtues faith and hope, 
which are often joined with charity ? 

A^ No ; for they are ideas without reality ; and if any effects 
result from them, they turn rather to the profit of those who 
baye not those ideas, than of those who have them ; so that faith 
and hope may be called the virtues of dupes for the benefit of 

Q. Does the law of nature prescribe probity? 

A* Yes ; for probity is nothing more than respect for one's 
own rights in those of another ; a respect founded on a prudent 
and well-combined calculationof our interests compared to those 
of others. 

Q. But does not this calculation, which embraces the com- 
plicated interests and rights of the social state, require an en- 
lightened understanding and knowledge, which make it a diffi- 
cult seience ? 

A, Yes, and a science so much the more delicate as the hon- 
est man pronounces in his own cause. 

Q. Probity, therefore, is a sign of extension and justice in 
the mind ? 

A* Yes ; for an honest man almost always neglects a present 

2ie T9StB liAW OF NATURB. 

interest, in order not to destroy a future one ; whereas the knave 
does the contrary, and loses a great future interest for a present 
smaller one. 

Q. Improbity, therefore, is a sign of false jjadgment and a nar^ 
row mind ? 

A. Yes ; and rogues may be defined ignorant and silly calcu- 
lators; for they do not understand their true interest, and they 
pretend to cunning : nevertheless, their cunning only ends ia 
making known what they are — in losing all confidence and ea- 
teem, and the good services resulting from them for their phys- 
ical and social existence. They neither live in peace with etb* 
ers, nor with themselves; and incessantly menaced by their 
conscience and tiieif enemies, they enjoy no other real happi- 
ness but that of not being hanged. 

Q. Does the law of nature forbid robbery? 

A* Yea ; for the man who robs another gives him a right to 
rob him; from that moment there is no security in his property* 
nor in his means of preservation : thus, in. injailng olhen,. h0» 
by a counterblow, injures himself. 

Q. Does it interdict even an inclination to rob? 

A. Yes; for that inclination leads naturally to action; and it 
is for. this reason that envy is considered a sin^ 

Q. How does it forbid murder ? 

A, By the most powerful motives of self-preservation ; foft 
first, the man who attacks exposes himself to the risk of being 
killed, by the right of defence ; secondly, if he kills, he gives to 
the telations and friends of the deceased, and to society at large, 
an equal right of killing him ; so that his life is no longer ia 

Q. How can we, by the law of nature, repair the evil we havo 

A. By rendering a proportionate good to those whom we 
have injured? 

Q. Does it allow us to repair it by prayers, vows, offerings to 
God, fasting, and mortifications ? 

A. No ; for all those things are foreign to the action we wish 
to repair ; they neither restore the ox to him from whom it has 
been stolen, honor to him whom we have deprived of it, nor life 
to him from whom it has been taken away ; consequently they 


miss (lie eod of justice ; tfaey are only perverse contracts, by 
which a man sells to another goods which do not belong to 
him : they are a real depravation of morality, inasmuch as they 
embolden to commit crimes, through the hope of expiating 
them ; wherefore they have been the real cause of all the evils 
by which the people, among whom those expiatory practices 
were used, have been continually tormetnted. 

Q. Does the law of nature order sincerity ? 

A, Yes ; for lying, perfidy, and perjury, create distrust, quar- 
rels, hatred, revenge, and a crowd of evils among men, which 
tend to their common destruction ; while sincerity and fidelity 
establiRh confi>:ence, concord, and peace, besides the infin'te 
good resulting irom such a state of things to society. 

Q. Does it prescribe mildness and modesty ? 

A* Yes ; for harshness and obduracy, by alienating from us 
the hearts of other men, give them an inclination to hurt us ; 
ostentation and vanity, by wounding their self-love and jealousy 
occasion us to miss the end of a real utility. 

Q. Does it prescribe humility as a virtue ? 

A. No; for it is a propensity in the human heart to despise 
secretly everything that presents to It the idea of weakness ; and 
jBelf-debaseraent encourages pride and oppression in others ; the 
balance must be kept in equipoise. 

Q. You have reckoned simplicity of manners among the so- 
cial virtues; what do you understand by that word ? 

A. I mean the restricting our wants and desires to what ie 
truly useful to the existence of the citizen and his family ; that 
Is to say, the man of simple manners has but few wants, an^ 
lives content with a little. 

Q. How is this virtue prescribed to us 1 

A. By the numerous advantages which the pvactice of it pro* 
cures to the individual and to society ; for the man whose wants 
are few, is free at once from a crowd of cares, perplexities, and 
labors; he avoids many qvarrels and contests arising from avid- 
ity and a desire of gain ; he spares himself the anxiety of anEib]<* 
tion, the inquietudes of possession, and the uneasiness of losses; 
finding superfluity everywhere, he is the real rich man; always 
content with what he has, he is happy at little expense ; and 
other men, not fearing any competition from him, leave him in 


dl6 THB LAW OP NAtimE. 

quiet, snd are dupowd to render him the servieev he •h^iikl 
•t«Ad in need of. 

And if this Tirtae of simplicity extends to a whole peof^, 
they insure to theoMolves abundance ; rich in everytbing they 
do not consume, they acquire immense means of exefaioige and 
commerce ; they work, fabricate, and sell at a lower price than 
others, and attain to all kinds of prosperity, haCb. at home and 

Q. What is the vice contraty to this tutae ? 

A. It is cupidity and Inxuiy. 

Q. Is luxury a vice in the individual and in society t 

A. Yes ; ^nd to that degree that it may be said to inolttde all 
the others ; for the man who stands in need of many things* 
imposes thereby on himself all the anxiety, and submits to all 
the means, just or unjust, of aequiriog them. Does he possess 
an enjoyment, he covets another ; and in the bosom of super- 
fluity, he is never rich ; a commodious dwelling is not suffiment 
for him, he mast have a beautiful hotel; not content with a 
plenlteous (able, he must have rare and costly viands; he most 
have splendid furniture, expensive clothes, a train of attendants, 
horses, carriages, women, theatrical representations, and games* 
Now, to supply so many expenses, much money must be had ; 
and he looks on every method of procuring it as good and even 
necessary : at first he borrows, afterward he stealst robs, {Sun- 
ders, turns bankrupt, is at war with every one, ruins, and is ruined. 

Should a nation be involved in luxuiy, it occasions on a larger 
scale the same devastations ; by reason that it consumes its en- 
tire procluce, it finds itself poor even with abundance ; it has 
nothing to sell to foreigners ; its manufactures are carried on at 
a great expense, and are sold too dear ; it becomes tributary for 
everything it imports; it attacks externally its cofisideration, 
power, strength, and means of defence and preservation ; while 
Ihternally it undermines and falls into the dissolution of its mem* 
bers. All its dtizens being covetous of enjoyments, are en- 
gaged in a perpetual struggle to obtain them ; all injure, or are 
near injuring themselves : and hence arise those habits and ac- 
tions of usurpation, which constitute what is denominated 
moral corruption» intestine war between citizen and citizen. 
From luxury arises avidity, from aviiity* invasion by violence 

¥IfS X^AW OP NJLTiritfi. ^ 219 

Md perfidy ; fraiiFn laxuiy iiriaes the iniquity of the judge, the 
venality of the witness, the improbity of the husband, the pros 
titution of the wife, the obduracy of parents, the ingratitude of 
children, the nrarice of the master, the dishonesty of the ser 
vant, the dilafndatioii of the administrator, the perversity of the 
legislator, lying, perfidy, perjury, assassination, and all the dis- 
»rdei» of the social state; so that it was with a profound sense 
of truth, that ancient moralists have laid the basis of the social 
I virtues on simplicity of manners, restiriction of wants, and con- 
Itentroent with a little ; and a sure way of knowing the extent 
of a man's virtues and vices is, to find out if his expenses are 
propor^nate to his fortune, and calculate, from his want of 
money, his probity, his integrity in fulfilling his engagements, 
his devotion to the public weal, and his sincere or pretended love 
of his country. 

Q. What do you mean by the word country? 

A. I mean the community of citizens who, united by frater- 
nai sentiments, and reciprocal wants, make of their respective 
strength one common force, the reaction of which on each qf 
them assumes the preservative and beneficent character of pa- 
ternity. In society, citizens form a bank of interest ; in our 
country we form a family of endearing attachments ; it is char- 
ity, the love of one's neighbor extended to a whole nation. Now, 
as charity can not be separated from justice, no member of the 
family can pretend to the enjoyment of its advantages, except 
in proportion to his labor; if he consumes more than it produ- 
ces, he necessarily encroaches on his fellow-citizens ; and it is 
only by consuming less than what he produces or possesses, 
that he can acquire the means of making sacrifices and being 

Q. What do yon conclude from all this ? ^ 

A» I conclude from it, that all the social virtues are only the 
habitude of actions useful to society and to the individual who 
practises them ; • 

That they all refer to the physical object of man's preserva- 

That nature having implanted in us the want of that preser- 
vation, has made a law to us of all its consequences, and a crime 
of everything that deviates from it ; 


That we cany la us the seed of eveiy viflue, asd of eHeiy 
perTection ; 
That it only requires to be developed ; 
That we are only happy inasmuch as we obserre the rules 
established by nature for Uie end of our preservation ; 

And that all wisdom, all perfection, all law, all virtue, all phi* 
losophy, consist in the practice of these axioms founded on ouf 
own organization : — 

Preserve thyself; 
Instruct thyself; 
Moderate thyself; 
Live for thy fellow-citiitens, that they may live for Aiee 


•' w^i^fHaw^^ss---^